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First images of a black hole unveiled by astronomers in landmark discovery

10 Apr 2019, 13:07 UTC
First images of a black hole unveiled by astronomers in landmark discovery
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The first direct visual evidence of a black hole and its “shadow” has been revealed today by astronomers working on the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). The image is of the supermassive black hole that lies at the centre of the huge Messier 87 galaxy, in the Virgo galaxy cluster. Located 55 million light-years from Earth, the black hole has been determined to have a mass 6.5 billion times that of the Sun, with an uncertainty of 0.7 billion solar masses. Although black holes are inherently invisible because of their extreme density and gravitational field, the researchers have managed to obtain images near the point where matter and energy can no longer escape – the so-called event horizon.
“We are giving humanity its first view of a black hole — a one-way door out of our universe,” says Sheperd Doeleman of the Haystack Observatory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who is the EHT’s lead astronomer. “This is a landmark in astronomy, an unprecedented scientific feat accomplished by a team of more than 200 researchers.” Doeleman says that the result would have been “presumed to be impossible just a generation ago”, adding that breakthroughs in technology and the completion of ...

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