Every image we have ever seen of a Black Hole was nothing more than a illustration.
But now, for the first time ever, astronomers have successfully imaged a black hole by aiming eight telescopes on three continents simultaneously on it, creating a virtual telescope as large as the Earth itself in the process.
The bigger the black hole the easier it becomes to be imaged. Super massive black holes are often surrounded by accretion disks, a ring of matter orbiting a large celestial object. The Saturn rings are probably the most famous example of an accretion disk.
These disks can include superheated plasma jets obscuring our view of the black hole itself. On the other hand it also illuminates the black hole because they give up a good amount of light to the object.
The closest super massive black hole to us is “Sagitarrius A*”, a behemoth 4 million times as massive as the sun in our constellation. A black hole is the heart of the “Milky Way Galaxy”, and is located 27.000 light years from Earth.
There is no telescope powerful enough to image the sheer size of the black hole, so a network of observatories teamed up in the array that’s called Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). Each telescope focuses on a different section of the black hole, imaging a section of it.
Then the data is collated and an image of the complete is assembled like a giant jigsaw puzzle. The EHT utilized telescopes in Chili, Hawaii, Spain, Antarctica and Arizona.
So now for the first time in our history, NASA has the technological capacity to observe black holes in detail. The images will emerge as all the data gets combined, but we have to wait several months for the result. However it confirms some basic predictions of Einstein theory of gravity in the extreme environment of a Black Hole.
Sputnik / Crickey Conservation Society.