Number 354 (Story #2), January 12, 1998 by Phillip F. Schewe and Ben Stein|
A 2.6 MILLION SOLAR MASS BLACK HOLE lurks at the center of the Milky Way. New measurements carried out with optical and radio telescopes have zeroed in on the heavy monster long known to exert a huge gravitational pull at the heart of our galaxy in the constellation Sagittarius. Andreas Eckart of the Max Planck Institute in Garching, Germany presented a film at the AAS meeting showing the proper motions (recorded over five years) of several stars within a few light days of the heavy object. The measured velocities of these stars, some as great as 1000 km/sec, lead to a mass estimate for the object of 2.6 (with an uncertainty of only 0.3) million solar masses. Considering that all of this mass must fit into dimensions of much less than a few light days across, Eckart asserted that the object could only be a black hole.