For the first time ever, scientists have officially captured an image of a black hole. Located in a galaxy called M87 and measuring 38 billion kilometers in diameter, this black hole is more than 50 million light-years away.
“We have seen what we thought was unseeable. 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, according to Science News.
This image is particularly interesting, not just because it is the first time anyone has seen or been able to capture a black hole, but also because it “aligns with expectations of what a black hole should look like based on Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which predicts how spacetime is warped by the extreme mass of a black hole.”
The gravitational pull of a black hole is typically so strong that not even light can escape, however, in this instance, and in the instance of other massive black holes of this nature, accumulate large amounts of gas and other materials that, at least in this image, emits a bright ring.
The team hopes to conduct additional data analysis in order to better understand the mystery that is the black hole, but because their appearances change so quickly, scientists have had to develop new techniques to analyze their data.
In 2020, two additional observatories will join the consortium of telescopes known as the Event Horizon Telescope, which was able to capture this image. Scientists are hopeful that more eyes on the skies will be able to help them gather further information.
Image Credit: By Event Horizon Telescope - EHT Collaboration. First Image of a Black Hole. ESO., CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77916527