Scientists have unveiled the first image of a black hole, the first direct visual evidence that black holes exist. The unveiling of the image, being called Powehi in Hawaii, marks a day of celebration for astronomers and astrophysicists.
The image further bolters Einstein’s theory of general relativity and helps scientists better understand black holes.
The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes possible through international collaboration, succeeded in what it was designed to accomplish, SciTecDaily reported.
The EHT links telescopes around the globe to form an unprecedented Earth-sized virtual telescope. It was designed to capture images of a black hole and on April 10, it unveiled the first direct visual evidence of a supermassive black hole and its shadow.
A black hole is a region exhibiting such strong gravitational effects that nothing not even particles and electromagnetic radiation such as light can escape from inside it.
This discovery was announced in a series of six papers published in a special issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters. The image discloses the black hole at the center of Messier 87, existing 55 million light-years from Earth. The mass of the black hole is 6.5 billion times that of our Sun, the largest and only star in our solar system.
This past week, Google also honored the breakthrough detection through their First Image of a Black Hole doodle in many countries.
Although black holes have been a topic of discussion for years in science books, magazines and Hollywood movies, an actual image was yet to be captured. This caused many people to believe they were both mystery and myth.
“We are embarking on a wonderful new series of putting new telescopes (at places around) the Earth, so if you add more telescopes, you build out that virtual mirror,” Director of EHT Sheperd Doeleman of Harvard University said at a news conference.
“Even adding two or three more stations in just the right places will increase the fidelity of the image a lot,” he added.
Based on Doeleman’s statements, it is possible that this image is just the beginning of unveiling many alike in the future.