The first photo of a black hole


Published on Apr 10, 2019


Today, scientists have unveiled an image of a supermassive black hole that has the same mass of 6.5 billion alone and that is more than 50 million light-years away from us, in the heart of a giant elliptical galaxy called Messier 87. This historic photo is our first glimpse of the silhouette of a black hole.

The photo is the crowning success of the project the Event Horizon Telescope, a global collaboration of over 200 scientists who saw the protagonist also in Italy, and has participated through the National Institute of Astrophysics (Inaf) and the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics (Infn).

Before now, the man could only see the indirect proof of the existence of black holes, looking for stars that seem to orbit around objects that are bizarre, capturing the radiation around them, or by observing the jets of energetic particles shoot away from their vicinity.

“We studied black holes for so long that it is sometimes easy to forget that none of us has ever seen one,” said today the director of the National Science Foundation, France Cordova.

“We are very pleased to announce today that we saw what we thought was impossible”, added the director of the project, Shep Doeleman of the Harvard-Smithsonian Institute for Astrophysics. “What we are seeing is evidence of an event horizon... now we have visual evidence of a black hole.”

Instead of being a single instant, the image of EHT is the product of a process called interferometry, which combines the observations from multiple telescopes.


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