News

A Black Hole Has Been Photographed for the First Time Ever

“Monster” Black Hole is 40 Billion km Across

For the first time ever, scientists have actually photographed the elusive “black hole“.

As one might recall from high-school science class, these black holes are incredibly dense and have extremely powerful gravity. So if an object cross their threshold (known as the Event Horizon), it will get sucked in and cannot escape. That includes both matter and light, which is why it is nearly impossible to photograph it in the first place.

Artist’s Rendition of a Black Hole from the Movie Interstellar (2014)

Which is also why until now, these celestial objects have only been “visualized” in theoretical models, texts and math equations.

How Did Scientists Photograph a Black Hole?

The project is the result of a collaboration with hundreds of scientists from all over the world. Although it is Professor Heino Falcke, of Radboud University in the Netherlands, who proposed the experiment.

The Event Horizon Telescope Network

Collaboration with multiple scientists is important because no single telescope is powerful enough to capture it. It required a network of eight telescopes across the world, focused on the M87 galaxy. This particularly black hole is also an extremely massive one, measuring 40 billion km across. Which is about three million times the size of the Earth.

“False Colour” Optical Photo of M87 Galaxy showing Massive Jet Spiral

Don’t worry, this is about 500 million trillion km away so we are not nearly close enough to be in its path, despite how powerful it is. According to Prof Falke, this black hole has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the Sun. Adding that he thinks it is “the heavyweight champion of black holes in the Universe.”

This particular object has a halo of extremely bright superheated gas falling into the hole. Making it standout from the blackness of space. The light is brighter than all the billions of other stars in the galaxy combined, making it possible to view from Earth.

Although quite blurry, this is as good as it gets right now and is certainly an impressive feat.

“We’ve now seen the unseeable,” said Avery Broderick, a physicist at the University of Waterloo and the Perimeter Institute. He is also part of the international EHT research team. “Black holes are made real — they’re not just the scribbling on theorists’ chalkboards anymore, but they really are out there in the night.”

Ron Perillo

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