Astronomers have taken the first ever image of a black hole, which is located in a distant galaxy.
The image shows a bright ring formed as light bends in the intense gravity around a black hole that is 6.5 billion times more massive than the Sun. This long-sought image provides the strongest evidence to date for the existence of supermassive black holes and opens a new window onto the study of black holes, their event horizons, and gravity.
The photo is the product of observations made in April 2017 by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), an international consortium that linked eight radio observatories around the world to create a single, Earth-size telescope with enough magnifying might to see what until now has been unseeable. They captured an image of the black hole at the center of a galaxy known as M87.
"We have taken the first picture of a black hole," said EHT project director Sheperd S. Doeleman of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian. "This is an extraordinary scientific feat accomplished by a team of more than 200 researchers."
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 super-heating any surrounding material.