Here's a cooler photo than that overhead lunch shot you put on your Instagram Story: On Wednesday, the National Science Foundation revealed the first-ever image of an actual black hole. It was a triumph for the Event Horizon Telescope, or EHT, as being able to see—let alone capture—a black hole had been considered impossible.
The researchers behind the project announced their achievement by way of six papers published in a special issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters, and on Wednesday, held a series of coordinated press conferences around the globe.
"I am delighted to report that we have, for the first time, we have seen what we thought was unseeable. We have taken the first picture of a black hole," said Shep Doeleman, the director of the EHT and senior research fellow at Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
The black hole itself has a mass 6.5-billion times that of our sun and resides in Messier 87, a galaxy in the relatively "nearby" (55 million light-years from Cleveland) Virgo cluster. And that reddish halo around the center? That's the result of matter being superheated as it gets dragged inward, presumably to join Matthew McConaughey in the tesseract.
Like most images taken from space, this one is ultimately a recreation: 5 petabytes (or 5,000 terabytes) of data were collected, validated, and reconstructed in three different ways before becoming the final image you see above.
Dan Marrone of @UofA says in a few weeks of observing, @ehtelescope project collected approx 1000 disks, 5 petabytes of data, equivalent to "all of the selfies that 40k people will take in their lifetime." #RealBlackHole #ehtblackhole pic.twitter.com/6A0OBNVqBn— National Science Foundation (@NSF) April 10, 2019
Okay, sure, the image doesn't reveal a lot, but it's more than our brightest minds recently thought possible. And the notion of multiple governments working together in the name of science offers a rare glimmer of optimism. If they can put their heads together to drop a cosmic fit pic from 55 million light-years away, imagine what they can still do back here on Earth. There might be hope for us yet.
Source: Esquire US