Scientists have revealed the first-ever image made of a black hole.
Astronomers revealed the picture on Wednesday, 10 April, in Washington. According to the US-based national Science Foundation (NSF), a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration – was designed to capture images of a black hole.
The breakthrough was announced in a series of six papers published in a special issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The image reveals the black hole at the center of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster. This black hole resides 55 million light-years from Earth and has a mass 6.5-billion times that of the Sun, according to NSF.
‘It’s A Monster’
A BBC report quoted Professor Heino Falcke, of Radboud University, Netherlands, as saying, “It has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the Sun. And it is one of the heaviest black holes that we think exists. It is an absolute monster, the heavyweight champion of black holes in the Universe.”
“What we see is larger than the size of our entire Solar System,” Falcke, who proposed the experiment said.
Falcke had first ideated the project in 1993, as a PhD student, and eventually got the European Research Council to fund the project worth more than 40 million euros, the BBC report says. The NSF and agencies in East Asia also contributed.
Falcke said that the bright halo is caused by superheated gas falling into the hole while the edge of the dark circle at the centre is the point at which the gas enters the black hole, which is an object that has such a large gravitational pull, not even light can escape.
(With inputs from BBC and NSF)