Scientists from Harvard, MIT, Boston University and around the world on Wednesday announced they have managed to take a snapshot of one of the still-mysterious interstellar objects using data collected by the Event Horizon Telescope.
"We are delighted to be able to report to you today that we have seen what we thought was unseeable". That makes you feel that you really do understand some small part of our universe.
For the Event Horizon Telescope have combined the scientists of eight radio telescope observatories on four continents.
It's well-known that a black hole's gravity is so overpowering that even light can not escape its center.
"The event horizon, the point of no return". Its distance from the Earth is around 55 million light-years, so it clearly does not threat our planet.
Outside scientists suggested the achievement could be worthy of a Nobel Prize, just like the gravitational wave discovery.
"We are going into a regime where no one has ever gone before", says Bower, "We have Einstein's theory of general relativity, over a hundred years old right now...and it works!" This gas in this area heats up to billions of degrees, creating a silhouette, the shape of which should be able to be predicted by Einstein's theory of gravity. That's because that light is approaching Earth. "The image in Interstellar is nearly correct", Kazunori Akiyama, postdoctoral researcher at the MIT Haystack Observatory who led the team that created the EHT's image, explained to Gizmodo. "Making it these warm gold and oranges makes sense". This observation is a test of "strong gravity", where the differences are large and observable.
Up to now we have only seen black holes in sophisticated simulations of what scientists and sometimes movie makers think they look like.
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The project cost $50 million (NZ$73.8 million) to $60 million (NZ$88.6 million), with $28 million (NZ$41.3 million) of that coming from the National Science Foundation.
And last, but not least, we could not miss out on the fact that the black hole looks very similar to the Eye of Sauron from "Lord of the Rings".
Scientists across the world are very excited about the breakthrough picture. "To see the stuff going down the tubes, so to speak, to see it firsthand".
This twisting motion causes them to release photons, which is the main source of emission from matter close to the black hole.
Its creation made an endeavour that was previously thought impossible, a reality.
While black holes are invisible by nature, the ultra-hot material swirling in their midst forms a ring of light around the perimeter that reveals the mouth of the object itself based on its silhouette.
"Just a couple of years later, Karl Schwarzschild - he was a German astronomer who was stationed on the Russian front in World War One and was charged with calculating artillery trajectories - somehow gets ahold of Einstein's manuscript and realises something unbelievable". This black hole is seven billion times the mass of the sun.
The cool image was possible with two years of computer analysis of observations from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a global network of radio antennas.
Messier 87's black hole is just one of two researchers are pursuing.