The World's First Photo of a Black Hole

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It has a mass 6.5 billion times greater than Earth's sun.

But even though it's huge, it's incredibly hard to see.

An global team of astronomers announced Wednesday it had successfully captured the first-ever image of a black hole.

Today's historic portrait is the result of decades of theoretical predictions and technical advances.

"This is an extraordinary scientific feat accomplished by a team of more than 200 researchers", EHT project director Sheperd Doeleman said in a news release.

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Another Russian scientist, Alexander Lutovinov, a deputy head of the Russian Space Research Institute, said the Event Horizon Telescope project proved that our concept of how the Universe works was correct. They inhale everything - not even light can escape their pull.

The image of a black hole that's captivating people across the globe was the result of work from 200 scientists from 20 countries, including University of MI alum Katie Bouman. It's a "supermassive" black hole with a mass equal to billions of Earth's suns.

The M87 galaxy is a supergiant about 55 million light-years away in the constellation Virgo. The scientists are now processing the data collected by the telescopes and hope to release a photo in the very near future. And that means it converts nearby gas and matter into energy with 100 times more efficiency than the nuclear fusion that powers the stars.

The image was released during a press event at the National Science Foundation in Washington, D.C. Press events were also held in several other world cities.

The stuff of astrophysics dreams could come true on Wednesday.

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Scientists say that the black hole image findings support Einstein's theory of general relativity.

The image is showing the effects of gravity on the radio waves that are emitted by the matter surrounding the Blackhole. I'm sure many other times in human history, people saw something for the first time. and what you see, you can not unsee. Astronomers have linked together eight radio observatories around the globe to photograph the heart of galaxy Messier 87. Material moving around the black hole is moving at light speeds.

Physicist and black hole expert Lia Medeiros, from the University of Arizona, told ScienceNews magazine: "If general relativity buckles at a black hole's boundary, it may point the way forward for theorists". Unfortunately, Earth - and the vast majority of the planets in the galaxy - just aren't in the right position to see our galaxy's black hole. "It's nearly humbling in a certain way", said Shep Doeleman, the project's director. The operators had to know the timing of the signals at every one of these telescopes to a billionth of a second to make sure they were all looking at the same thing at the same time. The telescopes are scattered from volcanoes in Hawaii to Atacama's desert in Chile to Antarctica and Europe.

"It's a long way away", he said. "That is awe inspiring to me at least, but it is also important for physics". "Once you cross it, you will never be able to get out and you will never be able to communicate", said astronomer Avi Loeb, who is director of the Black Hole Initiative at Harvard but was not involved in the discovery.

Professor Davis said she was "dumbstruck" when she saw the image.

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