James Webb Space Telescope will study Milky Way's monster black hole - Space.com

James Webb Space Telescope will study Milky Way's monster black hole - Space.com

James Webb Space Telescope will study Milky Way's monster black hole - Space.com
Jun 27, 2022 1 min, 47 secs

Astronomers needed a telescope the size of Earth to image the monster black hole at the center of the Milky Way — and next time they tackle the continuing observations, they'll have help from NASA's next-generation observatory in space.

The James Webb Space Telescope, also known as JWST or Webb, launched in December 2021 and is wrapping up preparations to begin observing the universe.

Among the tasks scheduled for the new observatory's first year of work is teaming up with the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), the global array of observatories that published the first-ever photo of a black hole in April 2019. .

Live updates: NASA's James Webb Space Telescope mission.

Related: How the James Webb Space Telescope works in pictures.

Sagittarius A* is a tricky object to study because — in addition to all the usual constraints of a black hole — spots along its event horizon suddenly shoot out particles at nearly the speed of light.

(A black hole's event horizon is the point beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape.) These flares can occur four or five times a day, making Sagittarius A* a particularly changeable beast. .

"These hotspots basically all of a sudden turn on and flare," Yusef-Zadeh said.

And coincidentally, it's submillimeter radiation that the Event Horizon Telescope gathers to make its black hole images — which means that EHT scientists are detecting the signal of the underlying black hole and that of the flare.

"This is the worst thing that can happen to imaging a black hole, because you don't want to observe a variable source," Yusef-Zadeh said.

Independently of the EHT observations, Yusef-Zadeh said that he expects the Webb observations of flares to teach scientists plenty about how these features work.

— NASA's $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope launches on epic mission to study early universe.

— James Webb Space Telescope: The scientific mysteries no other observatory could unravel.

— James Webb Space Telescope: The engineering behind a 'first light machine' that is not allowed to fail  

And even if JWST can't catch a flare, the observations will still be valuable, he emphasized, given the partnership with the Event Horizon Telescope

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