Behold, the first ever real images of a black hole, just released today, Wednesday April 10, 2019. To me this beats the other strange news I read today, including the final solving of the great mystery of why Garfield phones whose eyes open when you pick up the receiver have been washing up on French beaches for decades. This next image is not a blurry eye of a Garfield phone, it is a real black hole:
… For the first time ever, humanity has photographed one of these elusive cosmic beasts, shining light on an exotic space-time realm that had long been beyond our ken.
“We have seen what we thought was unseeable,” Sheperd Doeleman, of Harvard University and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said today (April 10) during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. …
Doeleman directs the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, which captured the epic imagery. These four photos, which were unveiled today at press events around the world and in a series of published papers, outline the contours of the monster black hole lurking at the heart of the elliptical galaxy M87.
Read more Space.com
The image, of a lopsided ring of light surrounding a dark circle deep in the heart of a galaxy known as Messier 87, some 55 million light-years away from Earth, resembled the Eye of Sauron, a reminder yet again of the implacable power of nature. It is a smoke ring framing a one-way portal to eternity.
More at NYTimes
What this means is that Einstein was right again when he famously said, “Black jokes will resemble the blurry eye of Garfield.” Just kidding. Well, sort of:
… the image they shared is inspiring for another reason as well: it confirms what scientists predicted a black hole would look like based on Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity.
As CNET explains, we think we’ve all seen a black hole, but this is the first and only real series of images from an actual black hole.
All these images we’ve seen from NASA and other scientific organizations are just illustrations created with the help of artists, although many of them are actually based on data from real telescopes.
This first real black hole imaged is 55 million light-years away and has a mass 6.5-billion times that of the Sun, much bigger than the black hole at the center of our own galaxy (a mere 4.6 million times the mass of our Sun.) It is easy to forget that this is what Messier 87‘s black hole looked like 55 million years ago. The light is just now reaching us.
Odds are good that it is still there, however, as black holes are some of the longest lived things in the Universe. The most massive ones will take longer to melt away than the universe has been around according to this article, but they will event–ually.