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EST. 14th of February, 2012


World First Black Hole Image Released



Until now, every image of a black hole you have ever seen has been an artist's impression.



"We've been studying black holes so long that sometimes it's easy to forget that none of us has actually seen one," said France Cordova, director of the US National Science Foundation, at one of seven simultaneous press conferences where the scientists announced their findings to the world.

Key points:

  • The world-first image shows the supermassive black hole at the centre of M87, a neighbouring galaxy to our own Milky Way
  • The image is the result of a seven-year project linking telescopes all over the world to create 'a dish the size of the planet'
  • The fact the image matches so closely to predictions is a confirmation of Einstein's theory of general relativity



The historic image shows a bright fringe of gas which is being squeezed, heated and accelerated as it falls towards the event horizon of a supermassive black hole at the centre of M87, a galaxy near our own Milky Way.


This cosmic monster sits 55 million light-years from Earth and is 6.5 billion times heavier than the Sun. Its event horizon is spherical in shape and about three times bigger than the path Pluto traces around the Sun.


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


Observing black holes is a notoriously huge challenge because their gravitational pull is so strong that nothing — not even light — can escape once it crosses the event horizon, the point of no return.

Today's historic portrait is the result of decades of theoretical predictions and technical advances.


"This is an extraordinary scientific feat accomplished by a team of more than 200 researchers," said Dr Sheperd Doeleman from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics.



Edited by Krazychic
Kavawuvi and tarikja like this

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