This is the first photograph of a black hole in human history.
At 9 p.m. Beijing time on April 10, astronomers from all over the world, including China, announced the first real black hole at the same time. This visual evidence, captured by more than 200 researchers over 10 years from eight observation points on four continents, is expected to confirm that Einstein's general relativity still holds under extreme conditions. (Image provided by Event Vision Telescope Project Group)
Mysterious celestial black holes are finally "seen" by humans. Hundreds of scientists participated in the cooperative event horizon telescope project, which held a press conference in many places around the world on the 10th, to release their first black hole photographs.
The protagonist is a supermassive black hole at the center of Virgo's supergiant elliptical galaxy M87, 6.5 billion times the mass of the sun and about 55 million light-years from Earth. The photo shows a bright ring structure with a black center, which looks a little like a doughnut. The black part is the "shadow" cast by the black hole, and the bright part is the accretion disk rotating around the black hole at high speed.
The first black hole photograph in human history! Einstein was right again.
The first black hole photograph in human history! At 9:00 pm Beijing time on the 10th, astronomers from all over the world, including China, announced the first real black hole at the same time. This visual evidence, captured by more than 200 researchers over 10 years from eight observation points on four continents, is expected to confirm that Einstein's general relativity still holds under extreme conditions.
This is the first time that humans have gazed at a body that once existed only in theory, a black hole, a very small, massive object, like a cosmic "mouth of devouration", and light can not escape.
Real-looking black holes, located at the center of a giant elliptical galaxy M87 in Virgo, are 55 million light-years away from Earth and weigh about 6.5 billion times the mass of the Sun. Its core area has a shadow surrounded by a crescent halo.
More than a hundred years ago, Einstein's theory of general relativity took the lead in predicting black holes, and has since become a source of inspiration for many science fiction films. Scientists have confirmed the existence of black holes through some indirect evidence, but human beings have never really "seen" black holes.
"This is the first direct visual evidence of a black hole that confirms that Einstein's general relativity is still valid under extreme conditions." Shen Zhiqiang, a Chinese scientist involved in international cooperation and director of Shanghai Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said.
Black holes of enormous mass are mysterious beings in the universe. The black hole event horizon telescope, a virtual telescope with the size of the earth, is composed of observation points all over the world. The observation at 1.3mm wavelength is successfully realized. After long-term data analysis, the black hole image is successfully captured.
Because of the need for high sensitivity, eight radio telescopes that make up the global network are distributed at high altitudes, including volcanoes in Hawaii and Mexico, the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Spain, the Atacama Desert in Chile, and the Antarctic Pole. "The resolution of these telescopes is equivalent to reading a newspaper on the Nansha Islands in the Mohe River, Heilongjiang Province." Lu Rusen, a Chinese scientist and researcher at the Shanghai Observatory, said.
It is still not enough to "see" far and clearly, and it is necessary to "see" accurately when taking photos of black holes. "To watch TV programs, we must choose the right channel, and the black hole image must be observed in the right band." Lurusen said that the best band is near 1 mm, where the black hole halo is the brightest and the background "noise" is the smallest.
Shepard Dolman, a professor at Harvard University and director of the international cooperation project, said that in the past 10 years, technological breakthroughs and the cooperation of the Global Observatory have finally opened up a new window for observing black holes.