This animation shows the orbit of the star S2 around the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way. At its closest approach, which occurred most recently in May 2018, the star is traveling at nearly 3% of the speed of light and is an ideal test object for studying very strong gravitational fields and testing Einstein's general theory of relativity.

Credit: ESO/L. Calçada/

This simulation shows the orbits of a tight group of stars close to the supermassive blackhole at the heart of the Milky Way. During 2018 one of these stars, S2, passed very close to the black hole and was the subject of intense scrutiny with ESO telescope. Its behaviour matched the predictions of Einsteins's general relativity and was inconsistent with simpler Newtonian gravity.

Credit: ESO/L. Calçada/

This zoom video sequence starts with a broad view of the Milky Way. We then dive into the dusty central region to take a much closer look. There lurks a 4-million solar mass black hole, surrounded by a swarm of stars orbiting rapidly. We first see the stars in motion, thanks to 26 years of data from ESO's telescopes. We then see an even closer view of one of the stars, known as S2, passing very close to the black hole in May 2018. The final part shows a simulation of the motions of the stars.

Credit: ESO/L. Calçada/N. Risinger/DSS/ Collaboration

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