First Ever Image of a Gaseous Ring Circling Our Galaxy's Black Hole

Scientists have managed to snap a picture of a cool and ethereal gas ring around our galaxy's black hole.

For the first time ever, astronomers have managed to capture the image of a cool gaseous ring circling our galaxy's black hole

The researchers reported their images on June 5 in the journal Nature

The ring is made up of a combination of stars, dust and gases, better known as an accretion disk. These surround most black holes.

For example, the Milky Way's black hole extends to a point where light can't even escape its black hole's grasp. 

RELATED: HOW WAS THE FIRST PICTURE OF A BLACK HOLE TAKEN?

Up until now, scientists believed that the types of gases that make up the accretion disk were extremely hot, at around 18 million degrees Fahrenheit. We agree, that's rather hot. 

However, this accretion disk has cooler hydrogen gases, at 18,000 degrees Fahrenheit - which hadn't been captured as an image before.

The radiation in the area means that hydrogen atoms lose and gain electrons at a constant rate, which in turn releases weak radio waves. It was these weaker radio waves that the team discovered.

The discovery was made in the Atacama Desert observatory in Chile, using the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA).

First Ever Image of a Gaseous Ring Circling Our Galaxy's Black Hole
Artist impression of a ring of cool, interstellar gas surrounding the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. New ALMA observations reveal this structure for the first time. Source: NRAO/AUI/NSF; S. Dagnello/ ALMA

The cool hydrogen ring is currently around one hundredth of a light-year away from the black hole's event horizon. Moreover, it boasts an amount of hydrogen the equivalent to one tenth of Jupiter's entire mass. 

ALMA image of the disk of cool hydrogen gas flowing around the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. The colors represent the motion of the gas relative to Earth: the red portion is moving away, so the radio waves detected by ALMA are slightly stretched, or shifted, to the
ALMA image of the disk of cool hydrogen gas flowing around the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. Source: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), E.M. Murchikova; NRAO/AUI/NSF, S. Dagnello

It is clear that the gas is rotating around the black hole due to what is called the "Doppler effect".

This effect creates a blue hue to the light of the objects rotating towards our planet, whereas those moving away from it, look more red. 

"We hope these new ALMA observations will help the black hole give up some of its secrets," the lead author Elena Muchikova, an astrophysicist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, said in the statement. 

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