How Astronomers Took The First Ever Image Of A Black Hole

what you are seeing is the first ever

image of a black hole maybe it doesn't

look spectacular at first but consider

this black holes by their very nature

are invisible because their

gravitational pull is so strong that not

even light can escape them so for many

years astronomers thought that an image

like this was impossible how do you take

a picture of something that does not

emit light well it starts with a small

team of innovators and ends with a

telescope that is unlike anything the

world has ever seen


now despite major advances in telescope

technology there is no single telescope

on earth that can take a picture of a

black hole they're all too small so

astronomers innovated if one telescope

couldn't do the job then perhaps eight

would and they were right

they used eight radio telescopes

stationed at different points across the

world and kept them all in sync with

powerful atomic clocks they called the

effort the event horizon telescope this

series of telescopes combined has about

the same capabilities as if you had

built a telescope as large as our entire

planet and for the first time in history

it has shown us what a black hole around

55 million light-years away looks like

this black hole is actually a

supermassive black hole it's about 6 and

1/2 billion times as massive as our Sun

that's enormous even compared to other

supermassive black holes and lives in

the center of the Messier 87 galaxy and

as far as experts can tell it looks

exactly like what Einstein's general

theory of relativity predicted here's a

simulation of what the event horizon

teams thought the black hole would look

like and here's the real image

the light you see here is what's called

the accretion disk

it's a disc of light that forms around

the black hole when a star travels too

close and is broken apart in the process

but the most important part of this

photo is where there is no light that

dark circle in the center which measures

25 billion miles across that right there

is proof that black holes look and

behave how astronomers thought more

specifically that they actually have an

edge it's a place of no return which

astronomers call the event horizon once

you cross the event horizon the black

hole's gravity is so strong that you

cannot escape not you nor the fastest

spacecraft and not even the fastest

thing in the universe light that's why

the edge and everything beyond it are


trapped inside the black hole's

gravitational grip and this image may be

just the beginning the event horizon

telescope team has also turned its

sights on another black hole one that is

closer to home called Sagittarius a star

it's the supermassive black hole at the

center of our own galaxy the Milky Way

about 25,000 light years away but it's

significantly smaller than the one in

Messier 87 so it will probably be more

difficult to image and since it took

astronomers two years to combine and

analyze data for this first image it may

be a while before we see what other

black holes look like