Powehi: The first Black Hole to ever be photographed

Black Hole Photograph by the Event Horizon Telescope

Earlier this week, on the 10th of April, the first ever photograph of a black hole was unveiled by the Event Horizon Telescope team. The picture was captured by combining data from around 8 different radio dish telescope spread across the globe — called the Event Horizon Telescope.

The image as you see above, shows an orange ring with a dark black circle inside, that dark black circle is the black hole — The place with gravitational force so high that not been light can escape.

Also, the photographed black hole now has a name — Powehi. This name was given to it by Larry Kimura, a Hawaiian Language professor at University of Hawaii. The name comes from the early Hawaiian chant, in which “Po” means a dark source and “Wehi” represents one of many ways in which “Po” can be described.

Talking more about the Black Hole, the supermassive black hole in the picture is the M87 — a black hole present in the Virgo A galaxy, 54 million light years from Earth. Also, this black hole was photographed way back in 2017, but the picture was not made public until this week — major reason being the data processing.

Back in 2017, the radio dish telescopes captured around 5,000 trillion bytes of data over a period of two weeks. To unveil the images, this data needed to be processed — a challenge in itself. The data was physically — in hard drives — taken to Harvard’s lab, where the images were then extracted.

“The M87 is the around the size of our entire solar system, a real monster, producing jets that can penetrate our entire galaxy” said Sera Markoff, an astrophysicist, University of Amsterdam.

By photographing the M87, this is not the end for Event Horizon Telescope and team. They have many more surprises coming. In 2018, EHT conducted a second a second run, with details not yet unveiled — Which black hole did they have targeted hole now?