SCIENCE INFOTECH NEWS, Kathmandu, 11th April : Astronomers announced on Wednesday that at last they had captured an image of the unobservable: a black hole, a cosmic abyss so deep and dense that not even light can escape it. The image, of a lopsided ring of light surrounding a dark circle deep in the heart of a galaxy known as Messier 87, some 55 million light-years away from Earth, resembled the Eye of Sauron, a reminder yet again of the implacable power of nature. It is a smoke ring framing a one-way portal to eternity.
Astronomers have taken the first ever image of a black hole, which is located in a distant galaxy. It measures 40 billion km across – three million times the size of the Earth and has been described by scientists as “a monster”. The black hole is 500 million trillion km away and was photographed by a network of eight telescopes across the world. Details have been published today in Astrophysical Journal Letters.
It was captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a network of eight linked telescopes. 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.
To capture the image, astronomers reached across intergalactic space to Messier 87, or M87, a giant galaxy in the constellation Virgo. There, a black hole several billion times more massive than the sun is unleashing a violent jet of energy some 5,000 light-years into space.
The image offered a final, ringing affirmation of an idea so disturbing that even Einstein, from whose equations black holes emerged, was loath to accept it. If too much matter is crammed into one place, the cumulative force of gravity becomes overwhelming, and the place becomes an eternal trap. Here, according to Einstein’s theory, matter, space and time come to an end and vanish like a dream.
The results were announced simultaneously at news conferences in Washington, D.C., and five other places around the world, befitting an international collaboration involving 200 members, nine telescopes and six papers for the Astrophysical Journal Letters. When the image was put up on the screen in Washington, cheers and gasps, followed by applause, broke out in the room and throughout a universe of astrofans following the live-streamed event.