Scientists Reportedly Capture the First Image of a Black Hole

Yolanda Curtis
April 11, 2019

The first image of a black hole in the center of distant galaxy Messier 87 and its shadow, captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), in this undated handout image released April 10, 2019.

"We have taken the first picture of a black hole", said EHT project director Sheperd S. Doeleman of the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard & Smithsonian.

Chair of the EHT Science Council Heino Falcke of Radboud University, the Netherlands, explained that the shadow "reveals a lot about the nature of these fascinating objects and allowed us to measure the enormous mass of M87's black hole".

Scientists across the globe collaborated for the project, called the Event Horizon Project (EHT), as eight telescopes from different locations combined to create a virtual telescope as large as the earth, using a technique called interferometry. Those are joined to create a Very Long Baseline Interferometer (VLBI), close to the size of the Earth.

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For the uninitiated, a black hole is a place in space from where neither light or dust or for that matter anything can escape the entrapment, due to a strong gravitational pull. The announcement of their results will take place simultaneously in six places around the world, reflecting the vast worldwide nature of the collaboration.

Black holes, coming in a variety of sizes, are extraordinarily dense entities formed when very massive stars collapse at the end of their life cycle. Rather like a black hole for dollar bills.

"Yet, with more observations like this one, they are yielding their secrets", Dr. France A. Córdova, the director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), said during a Wednesday news conference in Washington D.C.

This is the first-ever image of a black hole. They've been a subject of scientific research as well as science fiction over the last several decades. Then, the verified data went to four separate teams around the world to generate images.

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That theory ascribes gravity to the warping of space and time by matter and energy, predicting that a sufficiently compact mass can deform spacetime to form a black hole.

Our own Milky Way galaxy has just such a black hole at its core.

Scientists are hoping that the image will help them to understand Einstein's theory of general relativity and quantum mechanics.

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

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