The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) — a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration — was designed to capture images of a black hole. In coordinated press conferences across the globe, EHT researchers revealed that they succeeded, unveiling the first direct visual evidence of the supermassive black hole in the centre of Messier 87 and its shadow. The shadow of a black hole seen here is the closest we can come to an image of the black hole itself, a completely dark object from which light cannot escape. The black hole’s boundary — the event horizon from which the EHT takes its name — is around 2.5 times smaller than the shadow it casts and measures just under 40 billion km across. While this may sound large, this ring is only about 40 microarcseconds across — equivalent to measuring the length of a credit card on the surface of the Moon. Although the telescopes making up the EHT are not physically connected, they are able to synchronize their recorded data with atomic clocks — hydrogen masers — which precisely time their observations. These observations were collected at a wavelength of 1.3 mm during a 2017 global campaign. Each telescope of the EHT produced enormous amounts of data – roughly 350 terabytes per day – which was stored on high-performance helium-filled hard drives. These data were flown to highly specialised supercomputers — known as correlators — at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy and MIT Haystack Observatory to be combined. They were then painstakingly converted into an image using novel computational tools developed by the collaboration.

Astronomers reveal First Image of BLACK HOLE in the Dark Black Veil

A virtual telescope the size of the planet Earth captured the first picture of a black hole a century after Einstein’s equations have predicted the existence of black holes. Particularly, the picture captured by the Event Horizon Telescope was the cryptic region defined by the hole’s event horizon, the point beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape. We’ve seen what we thought was unseeable, said Shep Doeleman, a radio astronomer at the Harvard University Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and director of the Event Horizon Telescope job. We’ve seen, and taken a picture of, a black hole. This really is a remarkable accomplishment. 

Video Credits to CNN #Black_Hole_1st_Image

The target was a huge black hole, 6.5 billion times more massive than the sun, at the core of M-87, a giant elliptical galaxy about 55 million light years away from the constellation Virgo. A target for amateur astronomers, the M-87 is among the brightest radio sources in the skies, with a massive jet of material moving away from the nucleus fed by a voracious black hole. The black hole’s six half billion solar masses have been crammed into a region about the size of a solar system.

Picture captured by Event Horizon Telescope shows black core, the event horizon, surrounded with an unbalanced ring of light emitted by particles racing around a black hole in the speed of light

It closely resembles what astronomers anticipated based on simulations running the equations of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Picturing the Black hole image

long-awaited announcement has been made concurrently at several press conferences around the globe by scientists participating in the event horizon telescope job. The scale of the event was reminiscent of the statements surrounding the discovery of the Higgs boson and the first detection of gravitational waves. The globe spanning network of radio dishes, atomic clocks and computers making up the Event Horizon Telescope is anticipated to picture Sagittarius A, or Sgr A for brief, the supermassive black hole in the heart of the Milky Way.

Unlike the beast powering M-87, Sgr A is a comparatively small 4.3 million solar mass black hole filling a volume smaller compared to Earth’s solar system. It’s located 26, 000 light years away in the heart of the Milky Way, generating huge gravitational effects that could be seen at the movements of the nearby stars. These movements at the heart of the galaxy have been studied for decades, supplying the mass of the hole along with some other insights, but no one has ever viewed the black hole itself. Although black holes, by definition, can’t be seen, radiation produced by gas and dust as material is sucked in at large speeds and heated to extreme temperatures is visible through wavelengths.

The M-87 images are the first direct view of a supermassive black hole, or rather the shadow of its event horizon, the limit that defines where the ordinary universe endings and the unknowable begins. Whatever crosses the event horizon, be it a photon, atomic particle or astronaut, is lost to the known world.

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