Scientists have captured the first ever image of a black hole, and (as long as it doesn’t turn out to possess the one ring) it’s a breathtaking breakthrough in understanding one of the universe’s most powerful and mysterious forces.
The gravity of a black hole is so strong not even light can escape it. “Because no light can get out, people can’t see black holes,” says NASA, “They are invisible.” Or at least they were, because for the first time ever scientists have captured an image of a black hole in space, one that is an unfathomable 6.5 billion times bigger than our own sun! And it looks an awful lot like the Eye of Sauron from The Lord of the Rings.
Scientists have obtained the first image of a black hole, using Event Horizon Telescope observations of the center of the galaxy M87. The image shows a bright ring formed as light bends in the intense gravity around a black hole that is 6.5 billion times more massive than the Sun pic.twitter.com/AymXilKhKe
— Event Horizon ‘Scope (@ehtelescope) April 10, 2019
The Event Horizon Telescope, which consists of an international collaboration of researchers and eight ground-based radio telescopes, captured this first-of-its-kind image of a black hole 55 million light-years away from Earth, at the center of the Messier 87, a “massive galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster.” You can read more about how they were able to photograph this specific black hole (which is really an image of its giant shadow) at the official announcement of the picture.
Even if this photo, which shows “a bright ring formed as light bends in the intense gravity around” the black hole, isn’t as crisp as some past images of the cosmos, it’s an incredible photo to look at merely because it exists. This is our first visual evidence of black holes.
And also because it clearly looks like the Eye of Sauron.
Is it? No. Probably not. Right? Black holes are incredibly weird and mysterious…
We don’t actually know if what’s past the event horizon is Middle-earth.
Featured Image: Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration