“Using the Event Horizon Telescope, scientists obtained an image of the black hole at the center of galaxy M87, outlined by emission from hot gas swirling around it under the influence of strong gravity near its event horizon,” as the caption to this photo reads in the NASA article “Black Hole Image Makes History; NASA Telescopes Coordinated Observations” from April 10. Source: Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al./NASA.gov.
April 10th, 2019 marks a historical landmark because the first picture of a black hole was taken. What makes this so amazing is that scientists have been studying black holes for decades and only a few weeks ago was this unseeable object finally seen.
What makes black holes so hard to see? Black holes have an extreme amount of gravity, which means any form of matter and even light can’t escape. Black holes are black for this reason. The only way to see this unseeable object is to look at the event horizon where stardust is entering the black hole. The ripped up stars and other materials create large disks around the black holes.
The image captured enables us to finally state that Einstein’s theory of general relativity is actually accurate. Einstein’s theory predicts that the presence of a black hole will warp spacetime because of its immense gravitational pull.
What else can we take away from this amazing picture? It seems that in the near future, a video may be released of the black hole actually consuming stars. This wouldn’t be a computer algorithm of events around the black hole, rather an actual video of the black hole itself. This is monumentous because we will finally be able to see the black hole in action.