This is the first ever photo of a black hole

Courtesy of MIT
Dr. Katie Bouman

Courtesy of MIT Dr. Katie Bouman

"The new image revealed is the shadow of a supermassive black hole at the centre of Messier 87, an elliptical galaxy 55 million light years from Earth".

The positioning of the eight observatories essentially allowed the researchers to turn the rotating Earth into one enormous telescope with extraordinary resolution - about 3 million times sharper than 20/20 vision.

Astronomers have captured the first image of a black hole, heralding a revolution in our understanding of the one of the universe's most mysterious objects. "We do it all the time", she says.

But the danger is we don't want to inject additional information into the problem, so as to bias our result toward something that we would expect to see. In layman's terms, this could change everything about how we think about the universe. It's a comprehensive explanation of gravity that the former patent clerk thought of in 1915 before computers and with much weaker telescopes.

Black holes are long-time superstars of science fiction.

"Today general relativity passed another crucial test", said University of Waterloo astronomer Avery Broderick, a co-discoverer. "The Einstein equations are lovely". "So often in my experience, nature wants to be beautiful".

It sounds unusual to keep saying Einstein is right, but every time his general relativity theory is confirmed, "we kill a cloud of alternative theories" and gain better understanding how to create an even more comprehensive theory of physics, said Ethan Vishniac of Johns Hopkins University.


"I was part of the observing team at the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, on April 2017 when these observations were carried out".

The black hole is about 6 billion times the mass of our sun and is in a galaxy called M87. This boundary is known as the event horizon. Research techniques and algorithms will continue to be improved until, for example, the matter spinning around the edges of the black hole can be studied further. In fact, the researchers had generated several photos and they all looked the same. But Wednesday's announcement in Washington, D.C., and five other locations around the globe is the first to display an image of a massive black hole. To get an image of the black hole, you'd need a large telescope. It was in June past year, when all the data had arrived at the center.

The team takes measurements to collect data with satellite dishes.

They took the "sparse and noisy data" that the telescopes spit out and tried to make an image.

"I was invited to join the Greenland telescope and EHT group because of my background and previous experience in radio astronomy". Completing the image was an enormous undertaking, involving an global team of scientists, supercomputers and hundreds of terabytes of data.

Those images were so good that scientists at first anxious that it was just too good to be true, Boston University's Marscher said.

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education.

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