The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) -- a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration -- was designed to capture images of a black hole. Today, in coordinated press conferences across the globe, EHT researchers reveal that they have succeeded, unveiling the first direct visual evidence of a supermassive black hole and its shadow. This breakthrough was announced in a series of six papers published in a special issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters. The image reveals the black hole at the center of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster. This black hole resides 55 million light-years from Earth and has a mass 6.5-billion times that of the Sun.
PHOTO: National Science Foundation
The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) -- a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration -- was designed to capture images of a black hole. Today, in coordinated press conferences across the globe, EHT researchers reveal that they have succeeded, unveiling the first direct visual evidence of a supermassive black hole and its shadow. This breakthrough was announced in a series of six papers published in a special issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters. The image reveals the black hole at the center of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster. This black hole resides 55 million light-years from Earth and has a mass 6.5-billion times that of the Sun.
Now playing
01:25
How the first photo of a black hole was captured
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:26
Sen. Joe Manchin explains why he wanted changes to relief bill
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 06: President Joe Biden speaks from the State Dining Room following the passage of the American Rescue Plan in the U.S. Senate at the White House on March 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Senate passed the latest COVID-19 relief bill by 50 to 49 on a party-line vote, after an all-night session. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Samuel Corum/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 06: President Joe Biden speaks from the State Dining Room following the passage of the American Rescue Plan in the U.S. Senate at the White House on March 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Senate passed the latest COVID-19 relief bill by 50 to 49 on a party-line vote, after an all-night session. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:36
Biden spokesperson: President doesn't want to end the filibuster
Now playing
02:29
MS gov. encourages residents to wear masks despite dropping mandate
Now playing
02:18
Town previously overrun by ISIS prepares to host Pope Francis
Biden 03062021
PHOTO: CNN
Biden 03062021
Now playing
02:28
'Help is on the way': Biden speaks after Senate passes relief plan
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) asks a question at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC.
PHOTO: Alex Edelman/Pool/Getty Images
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) asks a question at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Now playing
01:40
Trump plans to campaign against Sen. Murkowski in 2022
01 senate stimulus bill 210306
PHOTO: Senate TV
01 senate stimulus bill 210306
Now playing
01:47
Senate passes Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill
Pope Francis meets with Iraq's leading Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf, Iraq, Saturday, March 6, 2021. The closed-door meeting was expected to touch on issues plaguing Iraq's Christian minority. Al-Sistani is a deeply revered figure in Shiite-majority Iraq and and his opinions on religious matters are sought by Shiites worldwide.
PHOTO: Vatican Media/AP
Pope Francis meets with Iraq's leading Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf, Iraq, Saturday, March 6, 2021. The closed-door meeting was expected to touch on issues plaguing Iraq's Christian minority. Al-Sistani is a deeply revered figure in Shiite-majority Iraq and and his opinions on religious matters are sought by Shiites worldwide.
Now playing
01:42
Pope Francis holds historic meeting with revered Shia cleric
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 05: Sen. John Cornyn (R) (R-TX) talks with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) while walking to the U.S. Senate chamber for a vote March 05, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Senate continues to debate the latest COVID-19 relief bill.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Win McNamee/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 05: Sen. John Cornyn (R) (R-TX) talks with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) while walking to the U.S. Senate chamber for a vote March 05, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Senate continues to debate the latest COVID-19 relief bill. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:54
Axelrod breaks down Manchin's surprising move
sinema
PHOTO: CNN
sinema
Now playing
01:50
Senator's move has many on the internet outraged
PHOTO: FBI
Now playing
02:58
Trump State Department official charged in Capitol riot
John King Magic Wall 0305
PHOTO: CNN
John King Magic Wall 0305
Now playing
02:17
President Biden sending a team to the US-Mexico border
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:53
Here's how Canadian schools have stayed open
This image was taken during the first drive of NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars on March 4, 2021. The team has spent the weeks since landing checking out the rover to prepare for surface operations.
PHOTO: JPL-Caltech/NASA
This image was taken during the first drive of NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars on March 4, 2021. The team has spent the weeks since landing checking out the rover to prepare for surface operations.
Now playing
02:17
NASA releases stunning new images from Mars
Rep john garamendi 0305
PHOTO: CNN
Rep john garamendi 0305
Now playing
02:33
Rep. Garamendi: Any lawmaker involved in Capitol riots ought to be thrown out of Congress
A view of Capitol Hill during heightened security concerns over possible protests or violence tomorrow March 3, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Washington's security posture has been bolstered after threats of a possible March 4, 2021, "breach" of the US Capitol, with the House of Representatives changing its voting plans to avoid gathering members on a day of potential unrest. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
A view of Capitol Hill during heightened security concerns over possible protests or violence tomorrow March 3, 2021, in Washington, DC. - Washington's security posture has been bolstered after threats of a possible March 4, 2021, "breach" of the US Capitol, with the House of Representatives changing its voting plans to avoid gathering members on a day of potential unrest. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
03:18
Rep. Sarbanes: Failure to pass HR 1 'would split our democracy in two'
(CNN) —  

Astronomers have spotted a star speeding through our galaxy at more than 3,728,227 mph. And in 100 million years, it will leave the Milky Way for good.

But where did it come from and why is it in such a hurry to leave? Astronomers using the 3.9-meter Anglo-Australian Telescope at the Australian National University’s Siding Spring Observatory discovered the star and conducted follow-up measurements to track its path.

The findings about the star published Tuesday in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

“We traced this star’s journey back to the center of our galaxy, which is pretty exciting,” said Gary Da Costa, study author and professor at the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics. This star is traveling at record-breaking speed – 10 times faster than most stars in the Milky Way, including our Sun.

The astronomers were looking for the remains of small galaxies that orbit the Milky Way. The telescope they were using can measure about 400 targets at a time. Instead, they found a star on the outskirts of the galaxy that had been kicked there by the supermassive black hole at the center. The black hole is known as Sagittarius A* or Sgr A*. The black hole is 4.2 million times more massive than our sun.

If the black hole interacted with a binary star system that got to close, the results can be tragic for the star system.

“If such a binary system approaches a black hole too closely, the black hole can capture one of the stars into a close orbit and kick out the other at very high speed,” said Thomas Nordlander, study co-author and professor at ANU.

The star is 29,000 light-years away from Earth and it was kicked away by the black hole about five million years ago.

“In astronomical terms, the star will be leaving our galaxy fairly soon and it will likely travel through the emptiness of intergalactic space for an eternity,” said Da Costa. “It’s great to be able to confirm a 30-year-old prediction that stars can be flung out of a galaxy by the supermassive black hole at its center.”

The astronomers plan to keep tracking the star and gain a more precise measurement of its velocity and position, thanks to the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite, according to Dougal Mackey, study author and ARC Future Fellow at the Australian National University’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Mackey said there are a number of known “hyper velocity stars” like this one, but special features set the newly observed star apart.

“The two really special features of this star, though, are that its speed is much higher than other similar stars that were previously discovered (which all had velocity below 1000 km/s) and it’s the only one where we can be almost certain that it has come directly from the center of the Milky Way,” he said. “Together those facts provide evidence for something called the ‘Hills mechanism’ which is a theorised way for the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way to eject stars with very high velocity.”

The astronomers don’t know how common these so-called “evictions” are, but they have a theory that one might occur every few hundred thousand years, he said.

Determining the orbits of these kinds of stars can also help astronomers to understand and measure other parts of the galaxy. And understanding the composition and properties of a star born in the middle of the galaxy would shed light on stars that are otherwise hard for astronomers to observe.

“For this particular star, we hope to obtain better spectroscopic measurements that might let us determine its composition,” Mackey said. “That’s interesting because we think it was born right in the Galactic Center, which is a region that’s very difficult for us to observe in detail. So with this star we might learn about the conditions of star formation in that region and the composition of the gas from which stars are being formed.”