CAS: First ever black hole images in the final stage of 'printing'

Olive Hawkins
April 10, 2019

Massive, ravenous, powerful beyond measure - physicists are convinced that black holes exist, even if no one has directly observed one.

The news, said to be "ground-breaking", will be announced at six simultaneous press conferences around the world.

They've puzzled star gazers for centuries, but gradually astronomers are learning more about mysterious black holes.Black holes are collapsed giant stars where the gravity is so strong even light doesn't get out.A supermassive black hole, called Sagittarius A, is parked at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way.

The "groundbreaking result from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project", will be delivered in an announcement by the US National Science Foundation on Wednesday, April 10, at 9am EDT (13:00 GMT).

The collaboration, called EHT, is a global network of telescopes that has been attempting to capture the first photograph of a black hole ever.

The black hole depicted in the movie "Interstellar".

The news conference is scheduled for 9 a.m. (1300 GMT) on Wednesday. The theory was put forward in 1915, with an intent to explain the laws of gravity and their relation to other natural forces.

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So-called supermassive black holes, by contrast, are at least a million times bigger than the Sun.

Paul McNamara, an astrophysicist at the European Space Agency (ESA) told AFP: "More than 50 years ago, scientists saw that there was something very bright at the centre of our galaxy".

A computer simulation shows the expected appearance of the accretion disk surrounding a black hole, as seen in radio wavelengths.

The black hole is 26,000 light years away, making it rather hard to photograph, which is why the team combined radio telescopes from Chile, Spain, Mexico, Arizona in the United States, two observatories in Hawaii, and one in Antarctica to capture the elusive snap. Since the idea of a black hole was formulated in the late 1700s scientists have speculated and simulated what these kinds of images would look like. The technique for synchronizing observations effectively turns their network into a huge radio telescope nearly as wide as our planet. There's a lot riding on what we see on Wednesday, and while we've seen black holes in science fiction for decades, we might be in for a surprise.

Given these difficulties, what scientists are actually trying to capture is the so-called "event horizon" - the border of a black hole and the point of no return beyond which everything gets sucked in forever.

Black holes are extremely dense pockets of matter with incredible mass and minuscule volume.

"The shape of the shadow will be nearly a flawless circle in Einstein's theory", Psaltis stated, adding, "If we find it to be different than what the theory predicts, then we go back to square one and we say, 'Clearly, something is not exactly right", cited Reuters.

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