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Here’s the first-ever image of a black hole

Here’s the first-ever image of a black hole
Chandra X-ray Observatory close-up of the core of the M87 galaxy. [Photo: NASA/CXC/Villanova University/J. Neilsen

This morning, scientists revealed the first-ever photograph of a black hole. By its very nature, a black hole cannot be seen, because a black hole is an extremely dense object from which no light can escape, and anything that comes within a black hole’s “event horizon” is consumed, never to re-emerge, because of the black hole’s unimaginably strong gravity.

To try and capture an actual image of an item that was theorized by Einstein, a network of eight ground-based radio telescopes around the globe teamed up to operate together as if they were one telescope the size of our entire planet. The result was the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a massive Voltron-like device capable of documenting the black hole.

Chandra X-ray Observatory close-up of the core of the M87 galaxy. [Photo: NASA/CXC/Villanova University/J. Neilsen]
The image is a stunner, showing the shadow of the supermassive black hole in the center of Messier 87 (M87), an elliptical galaxy some 55 million light years from Earth, which is 6.5 billion times the mass of the sun.

Not to dampen one of the greatest scientific efforts of our time and a glowing tribute to global partnership, but the black hole looks a bit like . . . space SpaghettiOs? The eye of Sauron? Or like it is inevitably going to inspire a special-edition Krispy Kreme doughnut.

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