Scientists Say Black Hole Lies at Center of Galaxy

Stars orbit around central nucleus 4M times heavier than sun
By Green Point,  Newser User
Posted Dec 11, 2008 5:22 PM CST
This artists rendering shows dusty grains, including tiny specks of the minerals found in the gemstones peridot, sapphires, and rubies, that can be seen blowing in the winds of an active black hole.   (NASA)

(Newser) – A giant black hole sits at the core of our galaxy, say astronomers who participated in a 16-year German study that monitored the movements of 28 stars circling the center of the Milky Way. “Beyond any reasonable doubt,” the stars orbit a core concentration of mass 4 million times greater than that of the sun—an enormous black hole, the Independent reports.

Using telescopes at an observatory in the Chilean desert, the team also measured with greater accuracy the Earth’s distance from the galaxy’s core, calculated at 27,000 light years. Stellar movement around the black hole, known as Sagittarius A star, provides the “best empirical evidence that super-massive black holes do really exist,” said the team’s leader.