A milestone for science today with the release of the first ever photo of a black hole. It has a mass of 6.5 billion times that of our sun.
Throughout history, we’ve only seen illustrations of black holes. We’ve never really seen one, until now.
In 2017, scientists used a global network of telescopes to capture the image. It’s more than 50 million light years away, in a Galaxy known as M-87. However, what’s in the photo, isn’t exactly the black hole itself.
“It’s material around the black hole,” Dave Hostetter of the Lafayette Science Museum said. Hostetter is the museum’s planetarium curator.
“The gravity of the black hole is taking the radio waves that material is giving off. It’s bending it around the black hole.”
What the picture really shows is the reflection of light off the matter being sucked into the black hole.
The dark part is the edge of the black hole. Light can’t escape that area and it’s called the Event Horizon.
Because it’s so far away, Hostetter says the picture is like taking a look back in time.
“When we look up at the sky we’re not just looking off into the distance to see things, we’re looking back in time too. We see things as they were,” Hostetter said.
“We’re seeing it really how it was about 55 million years ago because that’s how long it took for light to get to us,” Hostetter said.
We don’t know what all is in the black hole. We do know that nothing can ever escape it, not even light.
“It’s a region that has a lot of gravity so that not even light can get away from it,” Hostetter said. ” So what’s going on inside a black hole is still a mystery in science. We don’t really understand that. ”
To read more about the image, click here.