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First Picture of a Black Hole

Black holes are one of the most mysterious things in our universe—a giant frightening object that can absorb planets, and in a supermassive form, even galaxies. Einstein predicted the existence of black holes as early as 1916 as part of the general theory of relativity. Despite this, it was not until 1971 that a real black hole was discovered.


Based on these data, it can be assumed that its pictures should have been taken around the same years, but in fact, the first picture of the black hole was taken only on April 10, 2019. The image of the supermassive black hole M87 * at the center of the supergiant elliptical galaxy Messier 87 (M87 ) in the constellation Virgo has released the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration, which is an international scientific project to create an extra-large telescope with a diameter of 12,000 kilometers. Thanks to this organization, on May 12, 2022, an image of Sgr A*., the world's second image of a black hole, was also taken.


The picture of a black hole has made a huge contribution to science and caused enthusiasm among the world community. Why did this happen? The fact is that it was very difficult to do this even in theory. Over 200 scientists have been working on this image for many years, the process of creating the image has even been compared to trying to take a picture of an orange on the surface of the Moon from Earth. Since the distance from us to M87 is 55 million light years, it was necessary to use the most powerful technologies (like a radio interferometer) to capture and analyze information. After receiving the data, they had to go through the machining processes: 1) Correlation process on a special supercomputer, 2) Calibration process, 3) Image creation using special algorithms that reconstruct gaps in the data.


A grandiose contribution to this scientific breakthrough was made by Katherine Louise Bouman, who gained particular fame as the developer of the supermassive black hole visualization algorithm. Thanks to this woman, we have all the evidence for the existence of this object.


We still have a lot of discoveries and thanks to such people we can be sure that there will always be great minds who are changing our world. The universe is unknown and full of secrets that can both delight and terrify, so we will find many more incredible phenomena.


These are the resources where you can explore this topic in more detail and learn a lot of new things:

• https://youtu.be/UGL_OL3OrCE?si=sw0K9rFvlLmygAwy

• https://iopscience.iop.org/journal/2041-8205/page/Focus_on_EHT

• https://www.sciencealert.com/to-truly-appreciate-the-m87-black-hole-pic-you-need-to-see-just-how-big-it-is

• https://www.astro.umd.edu/~thuard/astr288c/lecture6-notes.pdf



Crane, L. (2021, March 31). New picture of famous black hole reveals its swirling magnetic field. New Scientist. https://www.newscientist.com/article/2272226-new-picture-of-famous-black-hole-reveals-its-swirling-magnetic-field/

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