Science

The First Picture Of A Black Hole Was Taken By A Woman

The First Picture Of A Black Hole Was Taken By A Woman”

On that day in June, the data had finally arrived and Bouman's team pressed "go", waiting to see whether the code they had written could actually capture the invisible.

Astrophysicist Avery Broderick, a member of the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, said he was "a little stunned" that the image matched simulations so closely.

The image of the black hole was revealed during a live-streamed press conference. But thanks to Stephen Hawking's groundbreaking work, we know that the colossal masses are not just black abysses.

"The image shown is the combination of images produced by multiple methods", she wrote on Facebook. Of course, senior scientists worked on the project, but the imaging portion was mostly led by junior researchers, such as graduate students and post docs.

"It has been truly an honour, and I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with you all", she wrote. In fact, the researchers had generated several photos and they all looked the same. A milestone in black hole astronomy, it is the first direct visual evidence of an object once thought to be an mathematical artifact, a glitch in Albert Einstein's geometric model of gravity, the general theory of relativity.

The image of the black hole was taken in a galaxy known as M87, where, for 16 years, astronomers observed stars rotating in an orbit. Light gets bent and twisted around by gravity in a freakish funhouse effect as it gets sucked into the abyss along with superheated gas and dust.

It sounds unusual to keep saying Einstein is right, but every time his general relativity theory is confirmed, "we kill a cloud of alternative theories" and gain better understanding how to create an even more comprehensive theory of physics, said Ethan Vishniac of Johns Hopkins University. Einstein even predicted the object's neatly symmetrical shape. "We would never be able to see into the center of our galaxy in visible wavelengths because there's too much stuff in between".

"We have taken the first picture of a black hole - a one-way door out of our universe", Doeleman said. "It's a long way away", he said.

Dr Bouman told MIT News that taking the image of a black hole is "equivalent to taking an image of a grapefruit on the moon, but with a radio telescope". Bouman also headed a testing team that verified the image for the world to see.

Outside scientists suggested the achievement could be worthy of a Nobel, just like the gravitational wave discovery.

"The image has this exquisite beauty in its simplicity", said CfA astrophysicist Michael Johnson, the project's imaging coordinator. It's an unprecedented test of whether Einstein's ideas about the very nature of space and time hold up in extreme circumstances, and looks closer than ever before at the role of black holes in the universe. Its mass - the chief measurement of a black hole - is 6.5 billion times as much as our sun's. Its "event horizon"-the precipice, or point of no return where light and matter get sucked inexorably into the hole-is as big as our entire solar system".



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