Astronomers capture first image of a black hole

Scientists from around the world have unveiled the first image of a supermassive black hole.

Image: EHT Collaboration

The black hole image was recorded using the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) — a planet-scale network of eight radio telescopes around the world. The image reveals the black hole at the center of Messier 87 (M87), a massive galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster.

Black holes are extraordinary cosmic objects with enormous masses but extremely compact sizes. The presence of these objects affects their environment in extreme ways, warping spacetime and superheating any surrounding material.

Creating the EHT was a formidable challenge which required upgrading and connecting a worldwide network of eight pre-existing telescopes deployed at a variety of challenging high-altitude sites. These locations included volcanoes in Hawai`i and Mexico, mountains in Arizona and the Spanish Sierra Nevada, the Chilean Atacama Desert, and Antarctica.

The EHT observations use a technique called very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) which synchronises telescope facilities around the world and exploits the rotation of our planet to form one huge, Earth-size telescope observing at a wavelength of 1.3mm. VLBI allows the EHT to achieve an angular resolution of 20 micro-arcseconds — enough to read a newspaper in New York from a café in Paris.

Author: Rajamanickam

Rajamanickam is the Founder of QualityPoint Technologies which runs this RtoZ.org News Site.

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