Skip to main content

This is the first ever photo of a black hole

This is the first ever photo of a black hole


At 54 million light years from Earth, it's surrounded by a glowing ring of radiation and matter.

Image: Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration/Reuters

En collaboration avec


10 Apr 2019

An international scientific team on Wednesday announced a milestone in astrophysics - the first-ever photo of a black hole - using a global network of telescopes to gain insight into celestial objects with gravitational fields so strong no matter or light can escape.

The research was conducted by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, an international collaboration begun in 2012 to try to directly observe the immediate environment of a black hole using a global network of Earth-based telescopes. The announcement was made in simultaneous news conferences in Washington, Brussels, Santiago, Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo.

The image reveals the black hole at the centre of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster. This black hole resides about 54 million light years from Earth.

Black holes, phenomenally dense celestial entities, are extraordinarily difficult to observe despite their great mass. A black hole’s event horizon is the point of no return beyond which anything - stars, planets, gas, dust and all forms of electromagnetic radiation - gets swallowed into oblivion.

“This is a huge day in astrophysics,” said US National Science Foundation Director France Córdova. “We’re seeing the unseeable.”

The fact that black holes do not allow light to escape makes viewing them difficult. The scientists look for a ring of light - disrupted matter and radiation circling at tremendous speed at the edge of the event horizon - around a region of darkness representing the actual black hole. This is known as the black hole’s shadow or silhouette.

The project’s researchers obtained the first data in April 2017 using telescopes in the US states of Arizona and Hawaii as well as in Mexico, Chile, Spain and Antarctica. Since then, telescopes in France and Greenland have been added to the global network. The global network of telescopes has essentially created a planet-sized observational dish.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

7 eating habits that we know are good for us:

1. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits – Some countries are very specific about the number of servings of fruits and vegetables that we should consume daily, for example Greece says six, Costa Rica and Iceland say five. Canada even specifies the colors of vegetables to consume (one dark green and one orange vegetable a day). Serving sizes can vary by country; however, all guidelines recommend eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits on a daily basis.

2. Watch your intake of fats– Said in different ways, most guidelines make mention of reducing solid, saturated fats and give recommendations for replacing animal fats with vegetable oils. In Greece, olive oil is recommended, in Viet Nam it is sesame or peanut oil – demonstrating the importance of availability and cultural preference in each country’s guidelines.3. Cut back on foods and beverages high in sugar – It is generally agreed upon that processed sugar is harmful to our health. The guidelines in every country recommend to maint…

Humans are a massive minority on Earth. Why don't we act like it?

Humans are a massive minority on Earth. Why don't we act like it?

Most of us, including scientists, are blind to the full scope of the living world. This was illustrated by an informal survey which asked biologists and ecologists from elite universities two questions. In terms of mass, is the living world mostly composed of animals, plants or bacteria? And is there more global biomass on land or in the oceans? The majority of them answered both questions incorrectly.In an age of unparalleled access to information, this is a glaring gap in our knowledge. We are now equipped to close it. I joined colleagues from the Weizmann Institute in Israel and the California Institute of Technology to estimate the biomass of all kingdoms of life on Earth. The results were published in the journal of the American National Academy of Sciences, and were widely (and more digestibly) covered by the popular press.It required years of work, collecting and integrating information from hundreds of previ…

Chart of the day: These countries create most of the world’s CO2 emissions

With CO2 levels on the rise, being able to track global emissions is crucial. Image: REUTERS/Regis Duvignau Just two countries, China and the US, are responsible for more than 40% of the world’s CO2 emissions. With CO2 levels still on the rise, being able to track the global emissions hotspots is becoming more important than ever. Before the industrial revolution, levels of atmospheric CO2 were around 280 parts per million (ppm). By 2013, that level had breached the 400ppm mark for the first time. On 3 June 2019 it stood at 414.40ppm. Fifteen countries are responsible for more than two thirds of global CO2 emissions. Image: Visual Capitalist There are huge disparities between the world’s top 15 CO2 emissions-generating countries. China creates almost double the emissions of second-placed US, which is in turn responsible for more than twice the level of third-placed India.