Two years ago, scientists employed a network of advanced telescopes around the world to capture the first-ever image of a black hole, states an announcement released Wednesday morning by researchers at the National Science Foundation. They took a picture of a supermassive black hole and its shadow in the middle of a galaxy called M87, CNN reports.
The image revealed today is the first piece of direct visual evidence that black holes actually exists, the scientists announced. The image shows a central dark area is surrounded by a ring of light, with one side appearing brighter than the other.
The huge galaxy known as Messier 87 or M87 lies near the Virgo galaxy cluster over 50 million light-years away from Earth. The mass of the "supermassive" black hole is 6.5 billion times the mass of our sun, which, for reference, is bigger than the orbit of Neptune, the planet that takes 200 years to complete one orbit around the sun, according to CNN.
"We have seen what we thought was unseeable," said the director of the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, Sheperd Doeleman. "We have seen and taken a picture of a black hole."
The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration (EHT) is the worldwide system of telescopes that took the first-ever picture of a black hole. Over 200 researchers have worked for more than a decade on this project.
In their efforts to take a photograph of the black hole, the researchers synthesized the capabilities of eight radio telescopes from around the world using Very-Long-Baseline-Interferometry, said the European Southern Observatory, a component of the EHT. Effectively, the researchers made a virtual telescope roughly the same size of Earth.