World Freaks Out About First Image of Black Hole

Theresa Obrien
April 12, 2019

For the first time ever, people are witness to an actual photograph of a supermassive black hole 58 million light-years away in the Messier 87 galaxy, one of the most massive in our local Universe. Before today, we were left to use the dark corners of our imagination to picture what this dense and dark part of space might look like.

The new image shows a glowing ring that was obviously a black hole and its surroundings, said Harvard's Sheperd Doeleman, director of the Event Horizon Telescope team.

NASA says the images were made possible through an global network of radio telescopes and an worldwide collaboration with the National Science Foundation.

The photo shows a bright ring of superheated gasses falling into the perfectly circular hole, which is the event horizon beyond which not even light can escape.

Most news outlets are only showing the blurry zoomed in picture of the black hole so I'm posting the entire zoomed-out image of the black hole and everything it is consuming.

The first picture of a supermassive black hole has been finally captured by scientists, making it one of the biggest space breakthroughs.

The Malaysian scientist who was a postdoctoral researcher at the Dark Cosmology Centre of the Niels Bohr Institute in the University of Copenhagen between 2013 and 2016 believes capturing the black hole image has opened up a new door in astrophysics. Telescopes in Hawaii, Arizona, Chile, Mexico, Spain and the South Pole participated in the ambitious research project. They can vary widely in size and mass.

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The measurements are taken at a wavelength the human eye can not see, so the astronomers added color to the image.

The NASA observations were used to measure the X-ray brightness of M87's jet, which was then compared with the models and observations from the Event Horizon Telescope.

"I think this image will be an important part of astronomy going forward for years to come", Doeleman said, adding, "To know that these monsters exist, that is humbling". But if a person were to somehow get close to this black hole, it might not look quite like that, astronomers said. Obtaining an image of a black hole is not as easy as snapping a photo with an ordinary camera.

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

"UM contributed to the project", said Dr Juan Carlos Algaba, a VLBI (Very Long Baseline Interferometry) expert of the Radio Cosmology Laboratory in the Department of Physics, Faculty of Science in UM.

"However, the power created by linking up all these telescopes around the world is huge". Because of this enormous mass, black holes warp spacetime, heating the dust and gas around them to extreme temperatures, according to NSF. However, astrophysicists have thus far relied on indirect evidence, such as the Milky Way's stars orbiting a large and invisible object in the center of our galaxy, to prove their presence.

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