Why Is the First-Ever Black Hole Photo an Orange Ring?

Why Is the First-Ever Black Hole Photo an Orange Ring?

The telescope data was gathered by the Event Horizon Telescope two years ago, but it took so long to complete the image because it was a massive undertaking, involving about 200 scientists, supercomputers and hundreds of terabytes of data delivered worldwide by plane.

Today's historic portrait is the result of decades of theoretical predictions and technical advances.

Sheperd Doeleman said the new image provides the first visual evidence to confirm that theory.

This dark portrait of the event horizon was obtained of the supermassive black hole in the center of the galaxy Messier 87 (M87 for short) by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), an worldwide collaboration whose support includes the National Science Foundation.

By definition, black holes are invisible, because no light escapes from them.

The image captured is the result of years of global collaboration, which offers scientists a new way to study the most extreme objects in the Universe predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity during the centennial year of the historic experiment that first confirmed the theory, according to Academia Sinica.

The mass of this black hole is estimated to be 6.5 billion times the mass of Sun.

The black hole was spotted in galaxy Messier 87 (M87) that is 55 million light-years away. The scientists are now processing the data collected by the telescopes and hope to release a photo in the very near future. Others said that the picture reminded them of the eye of Sauron, of Marvel's Galactus, of orange-frosted donuts, and the Xbox's "Red Ring of Death". 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.

Six papers published today in the Astrophysical Journal Letters describe how this image came to be.

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What exactly are we looking at?

Developing the technology to get the image was a "Herculean task" in itself the researchers said; no single telescope is powerful enough to image a black hole in such detail on its own. Light gets bent and twisted around by gravity in a weird funhouse effect as it gets sucked into the abyss along with superheated gas and dust. This discovery is for sure one of the most important discoveries.

Eight telescopes across the globe participated in the observations in 2017.

The breakthrough adds major support for Einstein's theory of General Relativity and could help to answer longstanding questions on the nature of black holes.

Black holes gobble up anything in their vicinty, even light.

But researchers including astrophysicists at University College London (UCL), looked for the shadows cast by super-heated bits of space rock and dust as they tumbled into the black hole.

Black holes are "like the walls of a prison". The one in our galaxy is closer but much smaller, so they both look the same size in the sky. We will, however, mention that any doubts about the presence of black holes were effectively removed when LIGO, Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, picked up a collision of two distant black holes, sending a shiver through the space-time fabric. You can see the doodle above its search engine bar in your browser or on the Google Doodle site.

"We are now studying how to move the telescope to the Greenland Summit, and how to construct the telescope site at the Summit", explained Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂), an Academia research fellow and one of the leading scientists in EHT.

These locations included volcanoes in Hawaii and Mexico, mountains in Arizona and the Spanish Sierra Nevada, the Chilean Atacama Desert, and Antarctica.

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