Astronomers at the EHT are about to reveal the first ever image of a black hole

Black Hole Artistic Image

Black Holes are a total mystery, there are a ton of theories but they are just theories, none of them have been applied. This new experiment by the astronomers at the Event Horizon Telescope aims to practically capture an image of black holes, yes not one but two.

What is a Black Hole?

The straight forward definition is “A region of spacetime that exhibits super strong gravitational effects that not even light can escape from it”.

Massive stars at the end of their life cycle are thought to transform into Black Holes, and continue growing by absorbing their surrounding mass and merging with other black holes to create an even bigger version of themselves — supermassive black holes.

According to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, any sufficiently compact mass can deform spacetime and form a black hole. Also, the boundary of the black hole from which not even light can escape is called the event horizon.

What is the Event Horizon Telescope?

This is not a single, but instead an array of many radio dish telescopes — a specialised system with a combination of an antenna and radio receiver that can receive radio waves from space — spread all across the globe. All operating in sync to capture data at the same time and at same wavelengths.

Such a combination was built because the magnifying power of a radio dish telescope is bound by the size of the dish — the bigger the dish, the farther we can see — and by creating such an array, astronomers are attempting to simply increase the size of the dish.

The Black Hole data about to be released

The data about to be released on April 10 is the result of observations from 2017, collected by radio dish telescopes from the US, Chile, Spain, Mexico and the one at the South Pole.

The data is said to reveal an image of one or two black holes, best guess:

  • Sagittarius A* — location Milky Way, approx. 26000 light years away
  • M87 — location Virgo A galaxy, approx. 54 million light years way

Why so excitement?

Till date, no actual black hole image has been captured — if captured, it has not been released, all we have seen or expect what a black hole might actually look like are artistic renders. Other than that, it is said that a black hole doesn’t even allow electromagnetic radiation like light to escape, so what are we actually going to see?

Other than this, scientists and researchers around the globe also want to test some of the physics theories — they what to know if scientists like Einstein were correct about the nature of the black holes and do theories like general relativity even hold true.

Let’s see…