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Peering into the abyss

Image captured by: The Event Horizon Telescope

World domination is not enough for mankind, we also want to go into space. And, at last, nature has conspired to let us see something thought to be invisible. More than 50 million light-years away, in the heart of a giant elliptical galaxy called Messier 87, in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster, is a Black Hole. A flaming orange, yellow and black ring, that devours anything and everything that strays too near. Stars, planets, gas, and dust—not even light escapes the monster’s grasp once it crosses a threshold called the event horizon.

Scientists have unveiled an image of that object, a supermassive black hole containing the equivalent mass as 6.5 billion suns. This circular void is surrounded by a lopsided ring of light, revealing a landmark image of the world’s first look at a black hole’s silhouette; providing the first-ever picture of this black hole.

This image was captured by the Event Horizon Telescope project, a collaboration of more than 200 scientists utilizing an array of observatories scattered around the world, from Hawaii to the South Pole. Combined, it was able to collect more than a petabyte of data while staring at M87’s black hole in April 2017. Two years later scientists have assembled the photograph.

In the past, humans saw indirect evidence that black holes existed, by looking for stars that seemed to orbit bizarre objects, capturing radiation from the superheated matter swirling, or by seeing the extremely energetic jets of particles launched from their tumultuous environments.

Photo: USA Today



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