The first black hole picture ever was released to the public today.
It was taken by the Event Horizon Telescope, which is a collection of telescopes spread across the world taking images at the same time.
I wish Stephen Hawking was still around to see this. Before today humanity had never seen an actual image of a black hole and it’s accretion disk warping around it.
This is a very exciting time. Even today we are expecting the second Falcon Heavy launch with an attempt to land both boosters and the center stage. We just got pictures of Pluto not long ago. James Webb is on the way. I hope that these amazing feats of human ingenuity help inspire the younger generations to pursue science over click rates and incentivizing algorithms.
The First Black Hole Picture Ever
What are we looking at here?
Around a black hole is an accretion disk. This is material whizzing around the black hole at nearly the speed of light.
If it gets too close to the black hole, it reaches the event horizon at which point it will be sucked in to the black hole. Even light itself cannot escape once it enters the event horizon.
Since light can’t escape, the only light we can see is coming from the accretion disk.
More About This First Black Hole Picture
I will change this if I turn out to be wrong. I thought this was going to be Sagittarius A* but according to NASA this is the supermassive black hole at the center of Messier 87. So this black hole is named M87*.
The mass of M87* is billions of times more than our Sun.
Every year M87* sucks in material from the accretion disk amounting to about the mass of our Sun.
The Event Horizon Telescope
The Event Horizon Telescope is actually many of the biggest telescopes spread around the world linked together. This is called Very Long Baseline Interferometry. Baseline is referring to the distance between telescopes.
For example, we have the VLA already, which is the Very Large Array. It is located in New Mexico and is part of the Long Baseline Observatory.
By linking telescopes across the globe, they got a significant increase in the baseline which enabled images of an object with this size and distance.
Other Stuff You Might Be Interested In
I will be writing more about this first black hole picture and other space related stuff as it comes in.
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