The image of the black hole at the center of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster, was taken in April 2017, showing the first direct visual evidence of a supermassive black hole and its shadow, said Keiichi Asada, an EHT project member and associate research fellow at Academia Sinica. Now, researchers hope to learn how a black hole grows and what makes anything orbiting a black hole fall in. We now know for sure what a black hole looks like.
The "monster" black hole measures 40 billion kilometers (~25 billion miles) across - that's almost 29,000 Suns - and is located 500 million trillion kilometers (~311 million trillion miles) away at the heart of the Messier 87 galaxy, a massive galaxy in the "nearby" Virgo galaxy cluster.
Most news outlets are only showing the blurry zoomed in picture of the black hole so I'm posting the entire zoomed-out image of the black hole and everything it is consuming.
If a dying star is massive enough, on the order of 10 or 20 times as massive as our sun, it's likely to collapse into a black hole when it dies. Four imaging teams on supercomputers needed two years to crunch all the data.
"We are going into a regime where no one has ever gone before", says Bower, "We have Einstein's theory of general relativity, over a hundred years old right now...and it works!"
"You have probably seen many, many images of black holes before", said Heino Falcke, a professor in the Netherlands who chairs the EHT Science Council. That means that material moving toward us would appear brighter, while material moving away from us would appear dimmer-which you can see in the M87 image.
"History books will be divided into the time before the image and after the image", said Michael Kramer from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in one of the press conferences.
The next best option was to spot the nearest bright regions around the black hole.
But we're not looking at the black hole completely head on, and that's the origin of the other main difference.
The term "black hole" refers to a point in space where matter is so compressed that it creates a gravity field from which even light can not escape.
The black hole that scientists took a picture of is in the center of a galaxy called M87 and it is far bigger than anything in the Milky Way.
This is the first-ever image of a black hole. "Something I've been working on for many, many years, trying to build a physical model of a black hole environment and predictions, and the opportunity to study the hearts of black holes is incredible".
Doeleman recalled how he worked with Chinese researchers to build data-analyzing algorithms, to de-blur the image and to contribute to the VLBI technique.
The black hole unveiled today looked more or less exactly the way that the Event Horizon Telescope scientists, guided by Einstein's theory of relativity, expected it to look. And then around the black hole, there's this sort of orangey halo. Her telescope as well as Mauna Kea's Submillimeter Array where Bower works joined six others around the world to produce the picture. They also needed to ensure that the processor would not incorrectly use machine learning and be biased towards creating images that would match the expectations of the scientists.