The World's First Photo of a Black Hole

Quantum century

The first-ever images of a black hole are set to be released on Wednesday afternoon by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). The first photograph, which comes from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, shows the black hole that is at elliptical galaxy Messier 87 or M87.

Astronomers are about to reveal a spectacular landmark image that will mark the first time humanity has ever seen a black hole.

Matter pulled in by the black hole is believed to settle in a disc-like formation (the accretion disc), moving faster and becoming hotter as it draws closer to the event horizon, creating light.

The National Science Foundation provided streaming-video coverage of the big reveal here in Washington, at the National Press Club. The first relates to laws of nature on cosmic scales, while the second governs the weird world of subatomic particles where it is possible to be in two places at once.

Meanwhile, as scientists are still unsure as to how black holes are assembled or what would happen if something was to fall into it, they do insist that there shouldn't be any lingering doubts about their existence. "The shape is the shadow of the black hole", said Patrick Das Gupta, professor at Delhi University's department of physics and astrophysics. The image showing the radio signature of M87's black hole, 6.5 billion times more massive than our sun, was released at today's briefings. The same team has gathered even more data on a black hole in the center of our galaxy, but scientists said the object is so jumpy they don't have a good picture yet.

It's well known that a black hole's gravity is so overpowering that even light can not escape its center. "Here it is", said Sheperd Doeleman of Harvard, leader of a team of about 200 scientists from 20 countries.

"Obtaining an image of a black hole is not as easy as snapping a photo with an ordinary camera", the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, a USA research center, wrote on its website.

While Broderick said he was "not terribly surprised" by the discovery given the "long history of Einstein being proven right" on issues around general relativity, he expressed hope that Wednesday's announcement would lead to new scientific breakthroughs.

"What we're seeing is light from the stuff that's falling into the black hole", said Gammie, a member of the Event Horizon Telescope Science Council.

"What we saw were the edges of the black hole".

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