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First direct observation of a black hole and its ‘shadow’ is Physics World 2019 Breakthrough of the Year - Astronomy and space – Physics World

12 Dec 2019, 15:12 UTC
First direct observation of a black hole and its ‘shadow’ is Physics World 2019 Breakthrough of the Year - Astronomy and space – Physics World
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

This now-iconic image shows the doughnut-shaped ring of radio emissions surrounding a supermassive black hole that lies at the centre of a galaxy 55 million light-years from Earth. Event Horizon Telescope astronomers are the first to obtained images of the region near the event horizon of a black hole – the point beyond which matter and energy cannot escape the object’s intense gravity. This was done by combining the outputs of eight radio dishes in six different locations across the globe, which itself is an engineering triumph.
The black hole has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the Sun. The illuminated ring in the image is gas and dust surrounding the black hole in an accretion disc. It is heated to billions of degrees and therefore glows brightly with radio waves. Einstein’s general theory relativity predicts that a black hole will have a “shadow” around it that is about three times the radius of the event horizon — and this is clearly evident in the image. The shadow is of great interest as its size and shape depend mainly on the mass of the black hole – and to a lesser extent, the rate at which the black hole ...

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