Of all the enigmatic phenomena in our universe, there’s perhaps one that has captured our attention and imagination the most, even though we had never actually seen one: the black hole. These space objects are so dense that even light cannot escape their grip.
Ever since Einstein first proposed their existence, we’ve made simulations, art, and CGI versions of what we imagine black holes could look like. But it wasn’t until this morning that we saw a black hole for the first time. We have finally gazed into the cosmic abyss.
On Wednesday morning, teams of scientists around the world who work on an experiment called the Event Horizon Telescope released a much-anticipated image of the ultramassive black hole at the centre of the M87 galaxy.
This galaxy is 55 million light-years away in the Virgo supercluster, and it is 6.5 billion times more massive than our sun. “You’re looking at a black hole that is essentially the size of our entire solar system,” says Sera Markoff, EHT team member and professor of theoretical astrophysics at the University of Amsterdam.