Outside of this blue and green planet we call home, countless stars and planets surround us. The Earth is part of a spiral galaxy called the Milky Way, and at its very center there is most likely a supermassive black hole. The black hole that our whole world revolves around is called Sagittarius A*, or Sgr A* for short, and it’s staggeringly enormous — about 4.6 million times more massive than our sun, according to ViewSpace.org. For some additional comparison, our sun is large enough that 1.3 million planet Earths could fit inside it (via Cool Cosmos). Let that sink in for a moment.
Although we live relatively close to the black hole at the center of our galaxy, at an estimated 26,000 light-years of distance, it was Messier 87 (M87) that became the first black hole ever pictured. According to NASA, the M87 galaxy is around 54 million light-years away from Earth and may be up to 6 billion times more massive than the sun. Despite the unimaginable size of the galaxy (and thus, the black hole within it), you’d think that it’d be easier to photograph something that’s 26,000 light-years away rather than something that’s 54 million light-years away. However, in the case of our own Milky Way galaxy, the fact that we reside within it actually works to our disadvantage. We’re surrounded by cosmic gas and dust, and there’s even more of both between us and the center of the Milky Way. But who wouldn’t want to see the black hole in our immediate neighborhood?