Outside of this blue and green planet we call home, countless stars and planets surround us. Earth is part of a spiral galaxy called the Milky Way, and at its very center there is most likely a supermassive black hole. The black hole around which our entire world revolves is called Sagittarius A*, or Sgr A* for short, and it’s staggeringly huge: about 4.6 million times more massive than our sun, according to ViewSpace.org. For further comparison, our sun is large enough for 1.3 million Planet Earth could fit inside it (via Cool Cosmos). Let that sink in for a moment.
Although we live relatively close to the black hole at the center of our galaxy, at an estimated distance of 26,000 light-years, it was Messier 87 (M87) that became the first black hole ever imaged. According to NASA, the galaxy M87 is about 54 million light-years from Earth and may be up to 6 billion times more massive than the sun. Despite the unimaginable size of the galaxy (and thus the black hole within it), one would think it would be easier to photograph something 26,000 light-years away than something 54 million light-years away. away. However, in the case of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, the fact that we reside within it actually works to our disadvantage. We are surrounded by cosmic gas and dust, and there is even more of both between us and the center of the Milky Way. But who wouldn’t want to see the black hole in our immediate neighborhood?