ESO’s VLTI images of stars at the centre of the Milky Way

These annotated images, obtained with the GRAVITY instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) between March and July 2021, show stars orbiting very close to Sgr A*, the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way. One of these stars, named S29, was observed as it was making its closest approach to the black hole at 13 billion kilometres, just 90 times the distance between the Sun and Earth. Another star, named S300, was detected for the first time in the new VLTI observations.

To obtain the new images, the astronomers used a machine-learning technique, called Information Field Theory. They made a model of how the real sources may look, simulated how GRAVITY would see them, and compared this simulation with GRAVITY observations. This allowed them to find and track stars around Sagittarius A* with unparalleled depth and accuracy.


ESO/GRAVITY collaboration

About the Image

Release date:14 December 2021, 16:00
Related releases:eso2119
Size:4500 x 1842 px

About the Object

Name:Sagittarius A*
Type:Milky Way : Galaxy : Component : Central Black Hole
Category:Quasars and Black Holes

Image Formats

Large JPEG
611.2 KB
Publication JPEG
507.5 KB
Screensize JPEG
74.3 KB


Colours & filters

2.2 μmVery Large Telescope Interferometer