First Photo of a Black Hole to be Released Soon

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The year 2019 has arrived and as promised, the Event Horizon Telescope has been working hard to bring us the first telescopic photograph of the event horizon of a black hole. After all, for all its popularity in the collective imagination, we never saw a black hole. And the reason for this is simple.

The black holes themselves are literally invisible. The force of its gravity is so great that, beyond a certain point, nothing escapes. This includes electromagnetic radiation - such as X-rays, infrared, light and radio waves - that would allow us to directly detect the object. This point of no return is called an event horizon, and in addition to being a terrifying place in which you never want to get close, it is also our key to actually visualizing a black hole.

Although we may not be able to see the black hole itself, there is a chance that its horizon of events can be photographed and we are temptingly close to seeing it thanks to the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), which it must announce publicly at any time. Scientists are collecting data from various telescopes around the Earth to try to unify them as a single gigantic telescope.

But as long as that image does not arrive, an astrophysicist named Jean-Pierre Luminet has since 1978 proposed what could be considered the first image of a black hole's event horizon.

It's not a real photo, of course. Luminet, who had a background in mathematics, used his skill set to perform the first computational simulation of what a black hole might look like to an observer, using an IBM 7040 computer. The distorted image - seen above - shows how a flat disk of material falling into a black hole might look like we were close enough to see it. It does not look flat, because the intense gravity of the black hole is doubling the light around it.

The EHT have focused on Sagittarius A *, the supermassive black hole at the center of our own galaxy, the Milky Way. No one knows exactly what's next: It's possible that the data collected by the EHT will only return as a few erased pixels.

In addition to the photo, of course, we hope the research will help us understand more about polarization of the radiation, the structure of the magnetic field, and the relativistic jets of the black hole.

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Black Holes

Event Horizon

Event Horizon Telescope (EHT)

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