Black hole gets welcomed to the Earth with memes


Scientists have unveiled the landmark first image of a black hole from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) programme in a bid to test Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity.

Anonymous to the public just days ago, a USA computer scientist named Katie Bouman has become an overnight sensation due to her role in developing a computer algorithm that allowed researchers to take the world's first image of a black hole.

The image is of a black hole in the centre of Messier 87, the largest galaxy we are aware of, around 54 million light-years away. "It has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the Sun".

Event Horizon 'Scope tweeted the news earlier today alongside the recently acquired photo, which you can check out below!

A world-spanning network of telescopes called the Event Horizon Telescope zoomed in on the supermassive monster in the galaxy M87 to create this first-ever picture of a black hole.

The EHT team said that their imaging methods revealed a bright, ring-like structure with a dark central region - the black hole's shadow.

In 2016, Bouman developed an algorithm named CHIRP to sift through a true mountain of data gathered by the Event Horizon Telescope project from telescopes around the world to create an image. Until then, we'll be admiring this dark abyss in all its emo glory.

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"You cannot see a black hole, but you can actually see its shadow", Moedas said.

However astronomers have said they will do more work and look more at black holes to learn more. (The PBS NewsHour visited one in Chile when the project was still under discussion). Researchers believe that the massive black holes, which exist in the center of every galaxy in the universe, were formed the same time as their galaxy. They can vary widely in size and mass.

The eight telescopes collected 5 petabytes of data - or the 'equivalent of 5,000 years of mp3s, ' or 'a lifetime of selfies for 40,000 people'. But when it's feeding, it was theorized that the superheated gasses swirling toward the object's event horizon would be visible to a powerful telescope.

"Numerous features of the observed image match our theoretical understanding surprisingly well", said Paul T.P. Ho, EHT board member and director of the East Asian Observatory.

Einstein's theory also was validated by another major astrophysics achievement announced in 2016, the detection of gravitational waves, or ripples in spacetime, arising from two black holes that smashed together. Rather, thanks to heroic efforts by schedulers at Chandra, EHT, and NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission, as well as by the EHT's Multiwavelength Working Group, Chandra was used to observe M87 and other targets during the EHT campaign. "While we confirmed the existence of black holes and studied their properties in so many ways, nothing beats a direct observation", University of Southern California professor Clifford Johnson told MIT Technology Review in advance of the announcement.

The project succeeded because of worldwide cooperation among 20 countries and about 200 scientists at a cost of $50 million to $60 million, according to the National Science Foundation.