Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Science Updates


Most galaxies host a supermassive black hole (SMBH) at their nucleus (a supermassive black hole is one whose mass exceeds a million solar-masses.) A key unresolved issue in galaxy formation and evolution is the role these SMBHs play in shaping their galaxies.


Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy, is 100 times closer to us than any other SMBH and therefore a prime candidate for studies of how matter radiates as it accretes onto black holes.

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is a "research institute" of the Smithsonian Institution. It is joined with the Harvard College Observatory (HCO) to form the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). Because these research activities share Harvard and Smithsonian staff and resources, the links at this website will take you to information posted on the "CfA" pages.