Following mass speculation over the past few weeks, the world’s first physical photograph of a black hole – previously invisible to the naked eye – has been made public. The photo, which depicts a reddish-orange ring of gas, was captured within the Messier 87 galaxy, far beyond our own.
Black holes remain cosmic mysteries even to those who have been studying the universe around us for considerable years. While it’s known that black holes are completely inescapable – they have been escaping our eyes since the phenomenon was first theorised about.
Scientists Release First Image of Black Hole [video: Newsy]
The revolutionary new data was captured by a network of eight telescopes known as the Event Horizon. These telescopes are based worldwide, meaning that building a snapshot of the black hole was a genuine global event. The Event Horizon, otherwise known as EHT, brought together scientists and scholars from all corners of the globe.
“Black holes are the most mysterious objects in the universe. We have seen what we thought was unseeable. We have taken a picture of a black hole,” EHT director Sheperd Doeleman confirmed.
The EHT was able to pick up on the distant phenomenon by sensing particle radiation. These were heated up to incredible temperatures before disappearing completely – where they were swallowed by a black hole. The red halo in the photo is actually depicted brighter than it really is due to its distance from Earth. The photo shows us that dimmer sections are particles moving away from the hole.
Black holes are actually relatively tiny – which has only helped them to retain their elusiveness over the years. EHT’s project has been a labor of love spanning two years, and it won’t stop here. It’s thought that the EHT team are working to eventually find a black hole in our own galaxy, the Milky Way, to show to the world. The immense amount of data used to capture the black hole, however, is also unprecedented – which means experts may need access to many more hard drives if they are to find any more holes in the cosmos.
A visit to Messier 87's supermassive black hole
[video: National Science Foundation via NYDN tronc]
The inside of a black hole, however, remains a deep mystery. “The black hole is not the event horizon, it’s something inside,” EHT collaborator Ziri Younsi speculates. “It could be something just inside the event horizon, an exotic object hovering just beneath the surface, or it could be a singularity at the centre – or a ring.”
“It doesn’t yet give us an explanation of what’s going on inside.”
Making-of of first-ever picture of black hole explained [video: FRANCE 24]