Astronomers from the Event Horizon Telescope have unveiled the first-ever image of a black hole.
The image shows a bright ring formed as light bends in the intense gravity around a black hole that is 6.5 billion times bigger than the Sun
Hailed as major scientific breakthrough an announcement was made in simultaneous news conferences in Washington, Brussels, Santiago, Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo as the European Commission, European Research Council, and the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project detailed the findings of their mission.
RT reports: Despite their enormous mass black holes are extraordinarily difficult to observe. It is impossible to photograph a black hole’s interior, as light that gets too close to its gravitational pull is lost. This point is known as the event horizon
“This is a huge day in astrophysics,” said US National Science Foundation Director France Córdova. “We’re seeing the unseeable.”
Dr Shep Doeleman explained that they surveyed the Messier 87 galaxy in an effort to be able to picture the “supermassive black hole and its core.” This black hole resides about 54 million light-years from Earth.
“We are delighted to be able to report to you today, we have seen .. we have seen and taken a picture of a black hole,” Doeleman said. “Here it is”.
“What you are seeing is evidence of an event horizon,” he explained. “It is the strongest evidence that we have to date of the existence of black holes.”
Doeleman added that the milestone has “verified Einstein’s theory of gravity in this most extreme laboratory”.
“We could have seen a blob… We saw something so true, that really had a ring to it, if you can use that turn of phrase, and it was just astonishment and wonder,” he said.
The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is made up of dozens of observatories that scan the area around the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, named Sagittarius A*, and the black hole at the center of the galaxy M87.
The mission sought to capture the first ever image of a black hole’s silhouette. Until now, all that we have been able to see are artists’ impressions.
Astrophysicist Monika Moscibrodzka explained why the circle around the shadow of the black hole “is not really a full ring,” and is brighter at the bottom.
“Our models told us immediately that this kind of structure could only be formed if something in the source was rotating,” she said, adding, “It could be the black hole, or the matter around it, or both could be rotating.” The images are not yet sharp enough to work out the speed of the black hole rotation.