A network of eight radio telescopes spanning locations in various continents, from Antarctica to Europe and South America, called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) has captured the first image of a black hole ever. In a project that involved more than 200 scientists, the latest achievement of the team marks a milestone in the study of the enigma that black holes are. Einstein’s general relativity first laid the theoretical groundwork for predicting the existence of black holes, although Einstein himself was skeptical about their existence. Since neither matter nor light can escape a black hole, a black hole itself actually cannot be seen. However, the event horizon of a black hole can be illuminated and this is exactly what the latest capture has done, with the first glimpse of a black hole’s accretion disc produced by a high resolution result obtained after combining data from eight of the world’s leading radio observatories including the South Pole telescope. The particles within the observed black hole’s accretion disc are heated up to billions of degrees as they move around the black at speeds close to the speed of light and emit radiation, which the EHT picked up, before falling into the blackhole. Next up on the list of the EHT collaboration’s pursuits is the production of an image of the Milky Way’s black hole.
Image: event horizon telescope