First image of a Black hole captured

Astronomers have taken the first-ever image of a black hole, which is located in a distant galaxy. It measures 40 billion km across - three million times the size of the Earth - and has been described by scientists as "a monster".

Background

A black hole is a region of a spacetime exhibiting such strong gravitational effects that nothing—not even particles and electromagnetic radiation such as light—can escape from inside it. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass can deform spacetime to form a black hole.

Messier 87 (also known as Virgo A or NGC 4486, generally abbreviated to M87) is a supergiant elliptical galaxy in the constellation Virgo. One of the most massive galaxies in the local Universe, it has a large population of globular clusters—about 12,000 compared with the 150–200 orbiting the Milky Way.

The first image of the black hole inside galaxy Messier 87 was published on April 10, 2019, by the Event Horizon Telescope project. The Project to capture the image of a black hole was conceptualized and executed by Katie Bouman, an MIT graduate who was instrumental in building the algorithm responsible for creating the image.

Analysis

The black hole is 500 million trillion km away and was photographed by a network of eight telescopes across the world. Details have been published today in Astrophysical Journal Letters. It was captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a network of eight linked telescopes.

Prof Heino Falcke, of Radboud University in the Netherlands, who proposed the experiment, said that the black hole was found in a galaxy called M87. "What we see is larger than the size of our entire Solar System," he said.

"It has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the Sun. And it is one of the heaviest black holes that we think exists. It is an absolute monster, the heavyweight champion of black holes in the Universe."

Assessment

Our assessment is that the first image of a black hole has the potential to completely change the modern understanding of space. We believe that the mountain of data captured from the project telescopes will help in proving or disproving key theorems.