Into the Lair of the Beast

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Science  07 Jan 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5450, pp. 65-67
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5450.65

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After charting stars in the heart of our galaxy traveling at speeds up to 50 times faster than Earth circles the sun, scientists are convinced that a supermassive black hole is pulling the strings, as only the relentless grip of a supermassive black hole could keep these frenzied stars locked into orbit within the galactic center. With the beast's identity now known, astronomers hope next to better understand its feeding habits. They also are raising the tantalizing prospect of viewing, for the first time, an event horizon--the eldritch boundary beyond which nothing can escape a black hole's gravity--which would be the first direct, conclusive evidence for an effect of extremely strong gravity as predicted by general relativity.