Astronomers Capture the First Image of a Black Hole

Mindy Sparks
April 18, 2019

"We have seen and taken a picture of a black hole", Sheperd Doeleman, EHT Director and astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., said April 10 [2019] in Washington, D.C., at one of seven concurrent news conferences.

Scientists used the EHT, an worldwide network of radio telescopes, to hone in on the supermassive black hole that's about 6.5 billion times the mass of the sun.

"It's been a long haul, but we're all super excited and glad to announce it to the whole world", UMass Amherst astronomy professor GopalNarayanan said in a phone interview. It was revealed today after years of global collaboration between over 200 worldwide astronomers. The size of the shadow allows us to determine the mass of the black hole as 6.5-billion times that of the Sun.

'Christopher Nolan's team of scientists and visual effects artists did a pretty incredible job of predicting what a black hole might actually look like in Interstellar, ' added another impressed fan.

Black holes are infinitesimally small, colossally dense, and extremely distant objects. Since then, scientists have gathered more than enough data to attest for the fact that they are, indeed out there - for example, when black holes collide, they send a swarm of gravitational waves that ripple through space in the same way water ripples in a lake when you throw a stone in it. The shadow can be thought of as a magnified image of the event horizon, which is the point of no return for gas falling into the hole.

In the years since Physicist Albert Einstein hypothesized his theory of general relativity, predicting objects similar in characteristics to black holes, although he himself was skeptical about them, scientists have accumulated tonnes of evidence proving that such cosmetic mysteries are out there.

Simultaneously with Wednesday's announcement, six papers detailing the work of the collaboration will be published. Scientists from all over the world combined their knowledge, equipment, efforts to achieve something that was unthinkable just a few years ago.

The measurements were taken at a wavelength the human eye can not see, so the astronomers added colour to the image, choosing gold and orange because the light is so hot.

Part of the Milky Way the constellation of Sagittarius
Part of the Milky Way the constellation of Sagittarius

The Event Horizon Telescope will be a godsend for many other kinds of astronomical observations beyond black holes.

The picture reveals the black hole at the center of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster. One light-year is 5.9 trillion miles, or 9.5 trillion kilometers.

UA scientists were key players in giving us our first look at a black hole. It is devouring the insides of a galaxy about 55 million light years away. The black hole itself has such high gravity that it swallows light, and it can not be observed with any conventional optical or electromagnetic telescope.

Precisely speaking, the photographs and data shown by EHT are event horizon, which is the boundary of a black hole, rather than a black hole itself.

The project cost $50 million to $60 million, with $28 million of that coming from the National Science Foundation.

Myth says a black hole would rip a person apart, but scientists said that because of the particular forces exerted by an object as big as the one in M87, someone could fall into it and not be torn to pieces. But the person would never be heard from or seen again.

On Wednesday, Einstein's predictions about the shape and glow of a big black hole proved right, and astronomer after astronomer paid homage to the master.

The black hole also caught the attention of Nolan fans, who were shocked at how close the director was in his own depiction of a black hole for the film Interstellar.


Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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