Astronomers captured the first image of a black hole and and scientists are calling it ‘a monster’. It measures 40 billion km across and three million times the size of the earth. We’re no experts but apparently it is located deep inside the messier 87, a galaxy located in the virgo cluster some 55 million light years away.
Update (06/09/2019): researchers on the event horizon telescope (EHT) team responsible for capturing this image has won the $3m ‘breakthrough prize in fundamental physics.’ Now in its eighth year, the breakthrough prize, known as the ‘oscars of science,’ annually recognizes achievements in the life sciences, fundamental physics and mathematics, disciplines that ask the biggest questions and seek the deepest explanations. The 347 members of the team will each receive about $8,600 (£7,000).
video courtesy of channel 4 news
The picture shows a halo of dust and gas, tracing the outline of a colossal black hole. The photographs were taken using the event horizon telescope (EHT), a combination of eight radio observatories spread out along four continents, creating what MIT refers to as a ‘virtual, earth-sized telescope‘. It works by EHT picking up radiation emitted by particles within the disc that are heated to billions of degrees. These particles move around the black hole at close to the speed of light, before being absorbed by it.
video by european commission
‘This black hole is much bigger than the orbit of neptune, and neptune takes 200 years to go around the sun,’ geoffrey crew, a research scientist at MIT’s haystack observatory, said in a statement. ‘With the m87 black hole being so massive, an orbiting planet would go around it within a week and be traveling at close to the speed of light.‘
It’s hard to work out if it’s underwhelming or not. It’s definitely blurry. Either way, it’s obviously a massive achievement.
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