Monday, 22 April, 2019

Black Holes are Cool. Here's the Very First Picture of One

Jim Bridenstine NASA Black hole seen for first time in image showing matter being sucked into timeless oblivion
Andrew Wong | 12 April, 2019, 06:04

"Scientists have obtained the first image of a black hole, using Event Horizon Telescope observations of the center of the galaxy M87", officials with EHT project announced on Twitter. Though much smaller than M87's black hole, it still boasts an impressive mass of about 4 million times that of our sun.

Event Horizon 'Scope tweeted the news earlier today alongside the recently acquired photo, which you can check out below!

The picture shows the black hole having a dark center, encircled by a bright orange and yellow ring spreading outward.

The 37-year-old scientist got involved in the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project that made the historic record of the black hole after joining the Taiwan-based Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA) in 2016 as a postdoctoral fellow, The Star reported yesterday. To begin with, it helped to confirm Einstein's theory of general relativity (yet again) and gave astrophysicists the first and closest look yet at the enigmatic, chaotic phenomenon of black holes. "Something I've been working on for many, many years, trying to build a physical model of a black hole environment and predictions, and the opportunity to study the hearts of black holes is awesome".

The project's researchers obtained the data using radio telescopes in the USA states of Arizona and Hawaii as well as in Mexico, Chile, Spain and Antarctica.

Pointing to the screen at the European Research Council's news conference in Brussels, Falcke said that the much-sought-after image "looks like a ring of fire". The mystique of black holes in the community is very substantial. The scientists are now processing the data collected by the telescopes and hope to release a photo in the very near future. Astronomers on Earth linked eight powerful radio telescopes to snap what is essentially the shadow of the black hole, cast by the glowing clouds of gas around it.

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"It's a long way away", he said. "Numerous features of the observed image match our theoretical understanding surprisingly well", Paul T.P. Ho, EHT Board member and Director of the East Asian Observatory, said in the press release.

The news conference slated at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. shall be presided over by France Córdova, head of the National Science Foundation.

The project has also targeted another black hole - Sagittarius A* - situated at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy.

Myth says a black hole would rip a person apart, but scientists said that because of the particular forces exerted by an object as big as the one in M87, someone could fall into it and not be torn to pieces. The data for this black hole came in two years ago, and scientists have been forming it into a clear image since then. Because of this enormous mass, black holes warp spacetime, heating the dust and gas around them to extreme temperatures, according to NSF.

Paul TP Ho, an EHT board member, said: "Once we were sure we had imaged the shadow, we could compare our observations to extensive computer models that include the physics of warped space, superheated matter and strong magnetic fields".

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