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This map has suggested that the center of the Milky Way and the black hole there are 25,800 light years from Earth. This is closer to the official value of 27,700 light years adopted by the International Astronomical Union in 1985, the National Observatory of Japan said.

Furthermore, according to the map, our solar system travels at 227 kilometers per second while orbiting around the galactic center, this is faster than the official value of 220 kilometers per second, the statement added.

Earth is 2,000 light-years closer to the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy than previously thought.
Earth is 2,000 light-years closer to the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy than previously thought. (NAOJ)

These updated values ​​are the result of more than 15 years of observations by the Japanese radio astronomy project VERA, according to an announcement published Thursday by the National Observatory of Japan. VERA is short for VLBI Exploration of Radio Astrometry and refers to the mission’s array of telescopes, which use very long baseline interferometry to explore the three-dimensional structure of the Milky Way.

Because the Earth is inside the Milky Way., it’s hard to step back and see what the galaxy is like. To avoid this, the project used astrometry, the precise measurement of the position and motion of objects, to understand the general structure of the Milky Way and the Earth’s place in it.
The black hole is known as Sagittarius A * or Sgr A * and is 4.2 million times more massive than our sun. The supermassive hole and its huge gravitational field govern the orbits of the stars in the center of the Milky Way. Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez were awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery. exist various types of black holes, and scientists believe that supermassives may be connected to galaxy formation, as they often exist in the center of massive star systems, but exactly how or which form first remains unclear.

In August, VERA published its first catalog, which contains data on 99 celestial objects. Based on this catalog and recent observations by other groups, astronomers constructed a map of position and velocity. From this map, the scientists were able to calculate the center of the galaxy, the point around which everything rotates.

VERA combines data from four radio telescopes in Japan. The observatory said that when combined, the telescopes were able to achieve a resolution that, in theory, would allow astronomers to detect an American penny placed on the surface of the Moon.

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To be clear, the changes do not mean that Earth is sinking toward the black hole, the observatory said. Rather, the map more precisely identifies where the solar system has been all along.


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