22 | NOV | 2019
Mexican telescope collaborated to capture the first image of a black hole
Scientists have captured the first ever image of a black hole- Photo: Courtesy of the US' National Science Foundation

Mexican telescope collaborated to capture the first image of a black hole

10/04/2019
12:01
Newsroom/EL UNIVERSAL in English
Mexico City
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Using a global network of telescopes, including one in Mexico, scientists were able to capture the first ever photo of a black photo

Today, an international team of scientists announced a milestone in astrophysics. Using a global network of telescopes, including the “Alfonso Serrano Large Millimeter Telescope” in Mexico, they were able to capture the first ever photo of a black hole. 

The research was conducted by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, an international collaboration that began in 2012 to try to directly observe the immediate environment of a black hole using a global network of Earth-based telescopes.

Moreover, the team’s observations have validated the theory of general relativity proposed by Albert Einstein in 1915, to explain the laws of gravity.

“We have achieved something presumed to be impossible just a generation ago,” said astrophysicist Sheperd Doeleman, director of the Event Horizon Telescope at the Center for Astrophysics, Harvard & Smithsonian.

Doeleman said the research “verifies Einstein’s theory of gravity in this most extreme laboratory.”

Black holes are extraordinarily difficult to observe. A black hole’s event horizon is the point of no return beyond which anything, stars, planets, gas, dust and all forms of electromagnetic radiation, gets swallowed into oblivion.

“This is a huge day in astrophysics,” said U.S. National Science Foundation Director France Córdova. “We’re seeing the unseeable.”

Therefore, the fact that black holes do not allow light to escape makes viewing them difficult and scientists look for a ring of light around a region of darkness representing the actual black hole, known as the black hole’s shadow.

The scientists said Einstein’s theory predicted the shape of the shadow would be almost a perfect circle, as it turned out to be.

Astrophysicist Dimitrios Psaltis of the University of Arizona, the EHT project scientist, said, “The size and shape of the shadow matches the precise predictions of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, increasing our confidence in this century-old theory.”

“Imaging a black hole is just the beginning of our effort to develop new tools that will enable us to interpret the massively complex data that nature gives us,” Psaltis added.

Psaltis also described a black hole as “an extreme warp in spacetime,” a term referring to the three dimensions of space and the one dimension of time joined into a single four-dimensional continuum.

What is a black hole?

According to the NASA, a black hole is a region in space where the “force of gravity is so strong that light is not able to escape” because the matter has been pressed into a tiny space and also, some black holes are a result of dying stars.

But since no light can escape, black holes are invisible, nevertheless “scientists can see the effects of its strong gravity on the stars and gases around it” using special tools, such as telescopes because when a black hole and a star are orbiting close together, “high-energy light is produced” and scientific instruments can be used to see this high-energy light.
 

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