Main image via BBC
When Neil Armstrong first step foot on the moon, history was made. Now, astronomers have made another mark in history by taking the first ever image of a black hole!
For years, theoretical physicists and even Hollywood directors have imagined how black holes would look like. We now finally have real photographic proof!
Image via BBC
The black hole pictured measures up to 40 billion km across! That’s the estimated size of three million Earths put together! Scientists have described this black hole as “a monster”!
This historical picture was photographed by a network of eight telescopes across the world and is roughly 500 million trillion km away!
Image via BBC
The experiment was proposed by Prof. Heino Falcke, of Radbound University in the Netherlands, who spoke to BBC and told them that the black hole was found in a galaxy called M87.
“What we see is larger than the size of our entire Solar System,” he said. “It has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the Sun. And it is one of the heaviest black holes that we think exists. It is an absolute monster, the heavyweight champion of black holes in the Universe.”
Prof. Falcke described the image as an intensely bright “ring of fire” that surrounds a perfectly circular dark hole.
As reported by BBC, the “bright halo is caused by superheated gas falling into the hole. The light is brighter than all the billions of other stars in the galaxy combined.” That is why astronomers were able to see the black hole from Earth.
Look back at the image of the black hole and you’ll notice the edge of the dark circle. At the centre of that circle, is where the gas enters the black hole. A black hole has such a large gravitational pull that not even light can escape!
Dr Ziri Younsi, of University College London, who is part of the historical collaboration, said, “Although they are relatively simple objects, black holes raise some of the most complex questions about the nature of space and time, and ultimately our existence.”
“It is remarkable that the image we observe is so similar to that which we obtain from out theoretical calculations,” he continued. “So far, it looks like Einstein is correct once again.”
Having this first ever image of a black hole will allow researchers to learn more about these magnificent and mysterious objects.
Prof. Sheperd Doeleman of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, who is the director of the project that set up the network of eight linked telescopes, described the achievement as “an extraordinary scientific feat.”
“We have achieved something presumed to be impossible just a generation ago,” he said. “Breakthroughs in technology, connections between the world’s best radio observatories, and innovative algorithms all came together to open an entirely new window on black holes.”
Our minds are blown by this historical moment! Did you think that you’d be able to see a real picture of a black hole in your lifetime?
Info via BBC