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Black Hole Observed for the First Time Ever

Black Hole Observed for the First Time Ever

Credit: EHT collaboration
Credit: EHT collaboration

Researchers directing the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project captured 4 images of a black hole for the first time in history. The images show a circle of light around a dark hole. The dark hole contains the black hole and its shadow. The circle is light that passed near to the black hole and was bent around by its gravity, a form of gravitational lensing.

Located in the constellation Virgo, about 55 million light-years from Earth, this black hole is near the center of a galaxy called M87. A black hole is a place in space with such strong gravity that absolutely nothing can escape from it. Anything that gets too close to a black hole will be stretched, compressed, and sucked in.

In order to capture the images, the research team linked up radio telescopes located around the world, creating a virtual telescope that’s about the same size as Earth. It took two years to collect and analyze the 5 petabyes of data collected from the telescope network observations.

In addition to providing confirmation that black holes exist, the images serve to confirm Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Observations of the black hole will continue, even as additional telescopes join the EHT network, so, undoubtedly, more images and more information about black holes will be forthcoming.

To learn more:
Katie Bouman’s TED Talk: How to Take a Picture of a Black Hole

AAS Nova: First Images of a Black Hole from the Event Horizon Telescope What Exactly is a Black Hole Event Horizon (and What Happens There)?

New York Times: Darkness Visible, Finally: Astronomers Capture First Ever Image of a Black Hole

Veritasium: First Image of a Black Hole!


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