Scientists reveal first image of black hole

12 April, 2019, 09:56 | Author: Kenneth Collins
  • A supermassive black hole with millions to billions times the mass of our sun is seen in an undated NASA artist's concept illustration

Thanks to the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, we now get our first direct look at a supermassive black hole and its shadow.

Astrophysicist Avery Broderick, a member of the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, said he was "a little stunned" that the image matched simulations so closely. The hole is located in the middle of a giant galaxy called Messier 87.

BNOW: The black hole actually turns out to look like scientists predicted.

At a conference today, which was held simultaneously in several countries and in multiple languages, researchers revealed their findings to the world. They have been connected to create a virtual earth-sized telescope allowing to "measure the size of the emission regions of the two super-massive black holes with the largest apparent event horizons", the EHT says on its website.

This is situated 26,000 light-years from Earth and is 4 million times the mass of our Sun, but by supermassive black hole standards, it is pretty small.

Scientists have lifted the veil on the first images ever captured of a black hole's event horizon. The data, stored on physical hard drives, was transported to a central location where it was "stitched" together by a supercomputer to form the image of the black hole's shadow.

The black hole in M87 isn't the closest to Earth, but it's among the biggest, which made it a very promising target for the EHT, Derek Fox, an associate professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State University, told Live Science (Fox was not affiliated with the EHT discovery).

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

Taken over four days when astronomers had "to have the flawless weather all across the world and literally all the stars had to align", the image helps confirm Einstein's general relativity theory, Dempsey said. 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. They are believed to be formed by collapsed stars.

One of the most freaky celestial objects ever discovered has been captured in a photograph for the very first time. "Once you cross it, you will never be able to get out and you will never be able to communicate", Loeb said. The technique for synchronizing observations effectively turns their network into a huge radio telescope nearly as wide as our planet.

He said: "About a hundred years ago, Albert Einstein gave us a new description of the force of gravity, in which gravity exerts its influence through warps and curves in the fabric of space and time".

The results from any one of the telescopes wouldn't have anywhere near the resolution to make out the hot surroundings of the black hole. We will, however, mention that any doubts about the presence of black holes were effectively removed when LIGO, Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, picked up a collision of two distant black holes, sending a shiver through the space-time fabric.

"We are now studying how to move the telescope to the Greenland Summit, and how to construct the telescope site at the Summit", explained Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂), an Academia research fellow and one of the leading scientists in EHT.

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