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tuesday :: october 22, 2002
> sagitarius sticker pointing to the black hole
milky way center
:: a supermassive black hole

Supermassive black holes -- the name given to black holes whose mass is more than 1,000,000 times the mass of the sun -- can be found at the center of many galaxies. Scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, and several institutions in France have succeeded in tracking Sagittarius A*, a star racing around a dark mass at the center of our galaxy. This achievement offers more support for the widely held view that the dark mass is a supermassive black hole.

The scientists tracked, for the first time, a star completing an orbit around a known unusual source of radiation (a black hole candidate) in the center of our galaxy. This discovery heralds a new epoch of high precision black hole astronomy and that might help us better understand how galaxies are born and evolve.

Such sightings could provide information on a point we know surprisingly little about: our own place in the universe. Tal Alexander, a theoretical astrophysicist,said: 'We currently do not even know the earth's exact distance from the center of our own galaxy -- understanding stellar orbits of this kind might tell us where we are.' >from *Zooming Star Points to Supermassive Black Hole at the Center of the Milky Way*, october 16, 2002

related context
life come from explosions of stars. toward a standard model of supernovae. september 25, 2001

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