First Image of a Black Hole Captured with Event Horizon Telescope

Posted on April 10, 2019

Messier 87 Black Hole Image

Astronomers have released the first image captured of a black hole. The image shows a ring of dust and gas around the center of the black hole. The image was obtained using the Event Horizon Telescope, which is an array of eight ground-based radio telescopes. The incredible image is trending on Twitter under the #EHTBlackHole hastag.

The gargantuan black hole at the heart of distant galaxy Messier 87 is the black hole that was imaged. The Messier 87 black hole is 55 million light-years from Earth and has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the Sun. The astronomers say in the announcement that the black hole's event horizon is about 2.5 times smaller than the shadow it casts and measures just under 40 billion kilometers across.

EHT project director Sheperd S. Doeleman of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, says in the announcement, "We have taken the first picture of a black hole. This is an extraordinary scientific feat accomplished by a team of more than 200 researchers."

EHT Science Council Chair Heino Falcke of Radboud University, the Netherlands, says, "If immersed in a bright region, like a disc of glowing gas, we expect a black hole to create a dark region similar to a shadow - something predicted by Einstein’s general relativity that we've never seen before. This shadow, caused by the gravitational bending and capture of light by the event horizon, reveals a lot about the nature of these fascinating objects and allowed us to measure the enormous mass of M87's black hole."

A report on the black hole image was published in a collection of papers in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. This animation released last year by the EHT team last year explains how the telescope array was used to obtain the breakthrough image:



Image: Event Horizon Telescope