Astronomers reveal first image of a black hole

Michele Stevens
April 11, 2019

The first photograph of a black hole and its fiery halo, released Wednesday by Event Horizon Telescope astronomers, is the "most direct proof of their existence", one of the project's lead scientists told AFP.

The Event Horizon Telescope does not look like any sort of traditional telescope you are picturing.

He said: "The history of man and of science will be divided into the time before the image and the time after the image".

Two years ago, an worldwide collective of scientists joined forces to take pictures of two black holes located at the centers of galaxies.

Astronomers believe black holes, very dense objects with a gravitational field so strong nothing that approaches its edges can escape, exist in almost every galaxy. He said the new picture provides strong evidence to support Albert Einstein's theories relating to the laws of gravity. But creating an image of the black hole required a telescope quite a bit larger.

Based on computer simulations, the event horizon of M87's black hole - that is, the boundary within which light waves can't escape - looked like a circle of black, surrounded by bright streams of superheated material swirling around the shadow.

What do we see in the image? .

What we're seeing here is the effects of the incredible gravitational pull of the black hole at the center of the M87 galaxy, causing light to be bent around the black hole itself, and revealing the black hole's "shadow" near the center.

"Think of a star ten times more massive than the Sun squeezed into a sphere approximately the diameter of New York City, " according to NASA. In 2018, an observatory in Chile was added to help create a clearer photo, after the initial results that came back were a tad foggy. A black hole does not let light escape, so it's hard to identify its existence, compared to any other empty space. For that reason, it's believed that there's another black hole with a mass of 4.1 million suns existing 26,000 light-years from Earth. This first image of a supermassive black hole nearly certainly will be improved upon in years to come.

Einstein first theorized about black holes a century ago, when he imagined gravity as a distortion of space and time, and surmised that an object small and enough and massive enough could hide behind an event horizon.

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