Letter

Nature 455, 78-80 (4 September 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature07245; Received 6 May 2008; Accepted 8 July 2008

Event-horizon-scale structure in the supermassive black hole candidate at the Galactic Centre

Sheperd S. Doeleman1, Jonathan Weintroub2, Alan E. E. Rogers1, Richard Plambeck3, Robert Freund4, Remo P. J. Tilanus5,6, Per Friberg5, Lucy M. Ziurys4, James M. Moran2, Brian Corey1, Ken H. Young2, Daniel L. Smythe1, Michael Titus1, Daniel P. Marrone7,8, Roger J. Cappallo1, Douglas C.-J. Bock9, Geoffrey C. Bower3, Richard Chamberlin10, Gary R. Davis5, Thomas P. Krichbaum11, James Lamb12, Holly Maness3, Arthur E. Niell1, Alan Roy11, Peter Strittmatter4, Daniel Werthimer13, Alan R. Whitney1 & David Woody12

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Haystack Observatory, Off Route 40, Westford, Massachusetts 01886, USA
  2. Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA
  3. University of California Berkeley, Department of Astronomy, 601 Campbell, Berkeley, California 94720-3411 USA
  4. Arizona Radio Observatory, Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, 933 North Cherry Avenue, Tucson Arizona 85721-0065, USA
  5. James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, Joint Astronomy Centre, 660 North A'ohoku Place University Park, Hilo, Hawaii 96720, USA
  6. Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, Laan van Nieuw Oost-Indie 300, NL2509 AC The Hague, The Netherlands
  7. National Radio Astronomy Observatory, 520 Edgemont Road, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903-2475, USA
  8. Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago, 5640 South Ellis Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA
  9. CARMA, PO Box 968, Big Pine, California 93513-0968, USA
  10. Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, 111 Nowelo Street, Hilo, Hawai'i 96720, USA
  11. Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
  12. OVRO, California Institute of Technology, 100 Leighton Lane, Big Pine, California 93513-0968, USA
  13. University of California Berkeley, Space Sciences Laboratory, Berkeley, California 94720-7450, USA

Correspondence to: Sheperd S. Doeleman1 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to S.S.D. (Email: sdoeleman@haystack.mit.edu).

The cores of most galaxies are thought to harbour supermassive black holes, which power galactic nuclei by converting the gravitational energy of accreting matter into radiation1. Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the compact source of radio, infrared and X-ray emission at the centre of the Milky Way, is the closest example of this phenomenon, with an estimated black hole mass that is 4,000,000 times that of the Sun2, 3. A long-standing astronomical goal is to resolve structures in the innermost accretion flow surrounding Sgr A*, where strong gravitational fields will distort the appearance of radiation emitted near the black hole. Radio observations at wavelengths of 3.5 mm and 7 mm have detected intrinsic structure in Sgr A*, but the spatial resolution of observations at these wavelengths is limited by interstellar scattering4, 5, 6, 7. Here we report observations at a wavelength of 1.3 mm that set a size of Unfortunately we are unable to provide accessible alternative text for this. If you require assistance to access this image, or to obtain a text description, please contact npg@nature.com microarcseconds on the intrinsic diameter of Sgr A*. This is less than the expected apparent size of the event horizon of the presumed black hole, suggesting that the bulk of Sgr A* emission may not be centred on the black hole, but arises in the surrounding accretion flow.

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

These links to content published by NPG are automatically generated.

NEWS AND VIEWS

Astrophysics Bringing black holes into focus

Nature News and Views (04 Sep 2008)

Astronomy Light on a dark place

Nature News and Views (03 Nov 2005)