Dhaka – Scientists have released the first ever image of a massive black hole 55 million light years away from the Earth.
The black hole, spotted using the Event Horizon Telescope observations of the center of the galaxy M87, has a mass 6.5 billion times of that of the Sun.
The revelation came in a series of six papers published in a special issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
A press statement issued along with the image of the black hole by the EHT, says the long-sought image provides the strongest evidence to date for the existence of supermassive black holes and opens a new window onto the study of black holes, their event horizons and gravity.
“We have taken the first picture of a black hole,” said EHT project director Sheperd S. Doeleman of the Center for Astrophysics Harvard & Smithsonian. “This is an extraordinary scientific feat accomplished by a team of more than 200 researchers,” Doleman said in the press statement.
Black holes are extraordinary cosmic objects with enormous masses but extremely compact sizes. The presence of these objects affects their environment in extreme ways, warping space-time and super-heating any surrounding material.
“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,” explained chair of the EHT Science Council Heino Falcke of Radboud University, the Netherlands.
“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.”
BBC reported that the image matches what theoretical physicists and indeed, Hollywood directors, imagined black holes would look like, according to Dr Ziri Younsi, of University College London – who is part of the collaboration.
“Although they are relatively simple objects, black holes raise some of the most complex questions about the nature of space and time, and ultimately of our existence,” he said.
“It is remarkable that the image we observe is so similar to that which we obtain from our theoretical calculations. So far, it looks like Einstein is correct once again.”