This day in human history will be marked as a special day. We have achieved to take the first ever photo of a Black Hole.

messier 87 black hole
The Event Horizon Telescope team unveiled the image for the first time on April 10th, 2019.

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) took the electro magnetic images (radio astronomy) of the black hole that sits inside Messier 87 (M87). It’s a galaxy located more than 53 million light-years from Earth. It has a mass of 6.5-billion times that of the sun.

The first question that may come to your mind after watching the image is, why the image of the black hole is so fuzzy?

It’s because the image is very tiny. Although this black hole is huge and it’s size of the shadow zone is almost larger than our solar system, but as it is 53 million light years away from our position in the sky, the actual size we see is 40 micro arcseconds.

From our perspective and the technology we currently have we should be more than happy that we got this image. Finger crossed, this is going to be one of the famous image of human civilization. We are very lucky to live in a time like that.

Do you know that we also observed the black hole in the center of our galaxy at the same time this black hole is observed? The general theory of relativity which was published almost hundred years ago, now has a strong ground to prove.

Interesting Facts about this Black Hole Image

This is the first ever images of a black hole humans were able to put in photograph.

8 telescopes from 8 different observatories around the world (situated in Hawaii, Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Chile, and Antarctica) combined the synchronization to take the photo. Because to take a photo from such a distance we needed a telescope that should be earth sized large. As it was not possible, the image were taken from different location when the earth orbits and provided the tech support for grabbing a stunning layered image like it.

200 scientist worked together to take the photo. They have discovered large dust and gas halo surrounding a black hole in M87 galaxy, situated in the massive Virgo galaxy cluster. The distance is about 55 million light years away from the Earth.

Each of the eight telescopes recorded 64 Gigabits/second of data for ten continuous days and after that the data were moved to USA & Germany for processing. So, those who thought this is just a photo captured yesterday 🙂 you are wrong. The data were so large (peta bytes) that online transfers weren’t an option and the hard disks were moved via plane.

“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.

How Do you Take the Photograph of an Object that doesn’t Radiate or Like Black Hole?

The direct image capturing wasn’t possible. So, the researchers looked at the  event horizon actually. Where gasses are heated to billion degrees and from this point no light can escape the black hole.

So, the EHT was looking at the shadows of the Black Hole, directly towards it. As stated in the general Theory of Relativity Einstein predicted the silhouette whose shape of the black hole.

Look carefully the image and you can easily see one side is brighter than the opposite site. This is because of the rotation of the black hole in perspective of earth.

Black Hole & The Future

As of today, we never observed black hole before like this. Black holes are mostly mysterious object as we can’t see them or they are hidden in time-space. Although the massive effects they play in the universe is proven by Einstein’s theory.

We have done it once and next we are going to take the photo of our own galaxy’s center. Scientist believes that the black hole in the center of our galaxy is very quite and not like the one we found in M87 galaxy.

Do you know that the black hole shown in the Interstellar movie is almost identical to the original one. Interstellar used real science to portray that!

Now we can assume that in near future or in 1000 years we might be able to look inside a black hole. Hail to Humanity and Science!

Katie Bouman

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