Black holes shine a light on the origins of the universe

12 April, 2019, 09:57 | Author: Jared Lewis
  • Black hole seen for first time in image showing matter being sucked into timeless oblivion

But even though it's huge, it's incredibly hard to see.

Sheperd Doeleman said the new image provides the first visual evidence to confirm that theory. The picture of a glowing orange-yellow ring around a dark core, was compiled from observations by eight ground-based radio telescopes known collectively as the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT).

"We have now seen the unseeable", said Shep Doelman, director, Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), when he released the images of the black hole, which has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the sun and is situated 500 million trillion km away in the M87 galaxy.

A black hole can be defined as "A black hole is a region of space-time exhibiting such strong gravitational effects that nothing - not even particles and electromagnetic radiation such as light - can escape from inside it".

Their combined observing power has been trained on two supermassive black holes, including the one in the centre of our own Milky Way galaxy, Sagittarius A*.

The image is the first step in more research toward massive black holes, event horizons, and gravity itself. Well, they can't say that anymore!

The black hole was spotted in galaxy Messier 87 (M87) that is 55 million light-years away. The operation involved an worldwide team of scientists using supercomputers to process massive amounts of data. They are believed to be formed by collapsed stars. The picture had been kept a secret; indeed, no one other than the members of the global collaboration that did the work had seen the image prior to the press conference - not even the director of the US National Science Foundation, which had contributed $28 million to the project. The results were also published in six papers in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

What exactly are we looking at?

The EHT team said that their imaging methods revealed a bright, ring-like structure with a dark central region - the black hole's shadow.

As for us, we're just sad that Opportunity didn't live to see this day.

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We have already reported on the preparations to one of the most important events in the history of space exploration - taking pictures of a black hole. The eight radio telescopes combined to produce a magnification equivalent to reading text on a phone in NY from a sidewalk in Paris, according to MIT.

"The size and shape of the shadow matches the precise predictions of Einstein's general theory of relativity, increasing our confidence in this century-old theory", Psaltis said.

Daniel Holz, University of Chicago, said, 'Yes, I'm definitely excited to see the image!

Black holes are extraordinary cosmic objects with enormous masses but extremely compact sizes, he said, adding that the presence of these objects affects their environment in extreme ways, warping spacetime and super-heating any surrounding material. "To know you've uncovered part of the universe that was off limits to us".

Through the span of seven days in April 2017, EHT space experts on four landmasses facilitated their endeavors to mention objective facts of the supermassive black hole.

"We've made a dish the size of the planet", she told ABC's Catalyst earlier this year.

The EHT, which combines eight observatories across the world to form a virtual telescope more than 12,000 kilometres across the diameter of the Earth, will be present its "groundbreaking result" at a press conference scheduled for 15h CEST.

"What we saw were the edges of the black hole. Once you cross it, you will never be able to get out and you will never be able to communicate", Loeb said.

These locations included volcanoes in Hawaii and Mexico, mountains in Arizona and the Spanish Sierra Nevada, the Chilean Atacama Desert, and Antarctica.

What does it all mean? At the center of the galaxy is a supermassive black hole. Despite the mocking memes, the image is indeed a triumph of science.

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