UMass Amherst astronomers helped reveal first image of black hole

Here is the first photo of a black hole

The EHT team also needed to create custom processing algorithms for the data being crunched at the two supercomputer locations, to make something meaningful out of the many terabytes captured. You cant pick up a telescope, even one the size of the Earth, and see it for yourself.

Outside scientists suggested the achievement could be worthy of a Nobel Prize, just like the gravitational wave discovery.

The solution is to look, not for the black hole itself, but for the shadow it casts. It is five hundred million trillion kilometers away from Earth. It was photographed by a network of eight telescopes across the planet. According to the observers, the black hole has 6.5 million times the mass of our sun and is situated 500 million km away from earth.

By 1978, Wallace Sargent and colleagues had determined that a dense mass five billion times the mass of our Sun lies at the centre of the nearby galaxy M87. Despite their huge mass and tremendous impact on their environment, black holes are very small bodies, making them particularly hard to detect. The image of the hole is also quite intriguing.

The reason why Chandra was able to snap such a remarkable image is that the elliptical galaxy surrounding the black hole acts as a reservoir of extremely hot gas, which glows brightly in X-ray light.

For now, scientists are poring over this first cache of information, and new discoveries are likely to follow the black hole photo. One side is bright and one is dim because the black hole is spinning. "This makes us confident about the interpretation of our observations, including our estimation of the black hole's mass".

The measurements were taken at a wavelength the human eye can not see, so the astronomers added color to the image, choosing gold and orange because the light is so hot. She has gained overnight fame because of her significant contributions to bringing the world's first image of a black hole. A puzzle that seemed to be impossible has finally been cracked and so many scientists, among them Professor Heino Falcke and Dr. Katie Bouman, have been acknowledged for making this project a success.

"Maybe the ones that are millions of times more massive are different - we just don't know yet", McNamara said.

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There are of course a few important questions they will be seeking to answer. The first black hole was discovered in 1971. It's very unlikely that one image will answer all these questions but it provides an ideal place for scientists to start. To gain a deeper understanding of how it worked out, you should watch this 2 years old TED talk with Katie below, where she explains how to take a picture of a black hole.

Numerous theories abound for the formation of these particularly massive black holes.

Three years ago, scientists using an extraordinarily sensitive observing system heard the sound of two much smaller black holes merging to create a gravitational wave, as Albert Einstein predicted. This creates an enormous gravitational pull.

Some of the questions researchers are now trying to answer is whether there was material falling onto the black hole while the EHT was getting its revolutionary image and what was happening to energetic particles near and far from the event horizon during this time.

The Event Horizon 'Scope says that over 200 researchers and eight observatories participated in the image capturing process-ALMA Chile, SMA Hawaii, SPT South Pole, SMT Arizona, PV Spain, JCMT Hawaii, LMY Mexico, and APEX Chile. In essence, nothing can escape the gravitational pull of the black hole when it reaches this zone.

"I think it looks very convincing", said Andrea Ghez, director of the UCLA Galactic Center Group, who wasn't part of the discovery team.

The concept was even proposed by an English clergyman, John Michell, back in the year 1784.

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