Astronomers have for the first time ever taken an image of a black hole located in a galaxy far away from us. The hole measures a staggering 40 billion kilometers across. It is three million times the size of Earth too. Scientists involved in the discovery have simply described it as a “monster.” But the black hole is quite far from our planet. Scientists estimate that it’s actually about 500 million trillion kilometers away from Earth. It was photographed by a network of eight telescopes across the planet.
The astronomers have also added that the hole is located in a galaxy known as the M87, which is larger than the size of our entire solar system. In addition to this, the hole’s mass is 6.5 billion times more than that of the sun. Researchers believe that this is probably one of the largest black holes that they will ever see. The image of the hole is also quite intriguing. It shows an intensely bright ring of fire surrounding a perfectly circular hole. According to scientists, the bright halo around it is caused by superheated gas that falls into the hole. The hole is also brighter than all the billion stars combined. This is the main reason why it can easily be viewed from Earth using telescopes.
The center of the image appears to show the black hole itself. This is where the superheated gas enters. The hole is said to have a large gravitational pull that even light cannot escape. Interestingly enough, the image that we have seen matches what theoretical physicists have imagined black holes would look like. Although these holes may seem like simple objects, scientists believe that they raise many questions about the nature of space and time. The great thing is that this first image will now help researchers learn more about these mysterious objects and what they are about.
There are of course a few important questions they will be seeking to answer. First of all, how does the bright ring around the hole form? In addition to this, we know very little about what happens to objects that are swallowed into it. Where do they go? It’s very unlikely that one image will answer all these questions but it provides an ideal place for scientists to start.
So, what exactly is a black hole anyway? According to scientists, a black hole is a region in space where nothing, even light, can escape. The holes contain huge amounts of matter densely packed into a small area. This creates an immense gravitational pull. There is also a region of space just beyond the black hole known as the “event zone.” Scientists call this the “point of no return.” In essence, nothing can escape the gravitational pull of the black hole when it reaches this zone. The recent discovery has not come without its costs. The entire project has taken years and 4 million euros in funding. But it looks like the discovery is indeed worth it.