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Finally! Black Hole Imaged For First Time By Event Horizon Telescope

For decades, astronomers believed that super-massive black holes (SMBH) exist at the very center of massive galaxies. So far, given their nature, all attempts to observe and study them has been restricted to unintended methods. Now the history has been made recently, changing all that, when an international squad of researchers captured the first-ever image of Sagittarius A*.

In order to achieve this researchers used a series of telescopes around the globe, mutually known as Event Horizon telescope (EHT). Whereby widely-space radio dishes from across the globe are connected into an Earth-sized virtual telescope, is known as Very Long Baseline Interferometry(VLBI).
Simulated view of a black hole. Credit: Bronzwaer/Davelaar/Moscibrodzka/Falcke/Radboud University

With the help of Event Horizon telescope researchers were able to visualize the mysterious area around this massive black hole from which energy and matter cannot escape – i.e. the event horizon. This was also the most extreme test of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity ever tried.

The Event Horizon Telescope started studying our galaxy’s central Black hole, located about 25,000 light years from Earth, in 2006. With help of data obtained by the Event Horizon Telescope researchers were able to determine whether or not black holes are surrounded by an orbital region from which nothing can escape (which is predicted by General Relativity).
Sagittarius A* seen in radio. Image credit: Farhad Zadeh, VLA, NRAO, APOD

Michael Bremer who is an astronomer at IRAM (InternationalResearch Institute for Radio Astronomy) and also a project manager for the Event Horizon Telescope, said:

“Instead of building a telescope so big that it would probably collapse under its own weight, we combined eight observatories like the pieces of a giant mirror. This gave us a virtual telescope as big as Earth—about 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) is diameter.”
Combined image of Sagittarius A* shown in x-ray (blue) and infrared (red), delivered by the Chandra Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: X-ray: NASA/UMass/D.Wang et al., IR: NASA/STScI
You can read about the more technical stuff, that how astronomers used EHT to capture the first image of the Black Hole here. An astronomer from Radbound University who now chairs the Scientific Council of EHT explained in an EHT press release:

“It is the challenge of doing something that has never been attempted before. It is the start of an adventurous journey towards a black hole… However, I think we need more observation campaigns and eventually more telescopes in the network to make a really good image.”

With time, the further study of black holes will allow us to finally determine how gravity and the other essential forces of the Universe interact. At long last, we will be able to understand all of existence as a single, unified equation!

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