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Major Achievement! Scientists Take The First-Ever Image of Black Hole

At the press conference, researchers told the story about how it was much quicker to take the data by plane to the various supercomputers being used to analyze the information.

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Black Hole
An image of the black hole at the center of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster. This black hole resides 55 million light-years from Earth and has a mass 6.5-billion times that of the sun. VOA

Using eight radio telescopes literally spanning the globe, scientists have taken the first-ever photograph of a black hole.

The supermassive black hole is at the center of a huge galaxy called M-87, which is 55 million light-years from Earth.

The picture, the result of decades of work by the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration (EHTC), isn’t much to look at. It’s a fuzzy orange and yellow donut floating in space, but the implications for physics, and the incredibly intricate way that researchers got the picture, is science at its best.

The picture is exactly what scientists, particularly the late Albert Einstein, predicted it would look like. There is the eponymous center black hole where gravity is so powerful even light cannot escape, and a circular area of superheated energy rotating around the celestial entity at nearly the speed of light, called the event horizon.

“We now know that a black hole that weighs 6.5 billion times what our sun does exists in the center of M-87,” EHTC scientist Shep Doeleman announced at a press conference Wednesday in Washington. “And this is the strongest evidence that we have to date for the existence of black holes.”

This picture is so important because while scientists have been seeing the effects that black holes have on the structures around them, they have never actually seen one, and this photo in effect proves their existence, as well as one of the foundational principles of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

200 scientists

At its center, the black hole is so big that even though it’s a long distance away, scientists reasoned it was likely to be the largest such structures viewable from Earth. For that reason, M-87 was chosen for the experiment.

More than 200 scientists worked for about a decade to link the global network of eight radio telescopes, using atomic clocks. One by one in an exact sequence, the instruments were pointed at M-87 at what was, in effect, the same time, back in April 2017.

When the experiment was over, the researchers had five petabytes — or a million gigabytes — of visual information to review. At the press conference, researchers told the story about how it was much quicker to take the data by plane to the various supercomputers being used to analyze the information. They said this was easier than trying to transfer that much data into the cloud.

photo
The supermassive black hole is at the center of a huge galaxy called M-87, which is 55 million light-years from Earth.Pixabay

It took two weeks for a group of supercomputers to analyze the data and begin to form all the collected information into the modest photo that scientists released Wednesday.

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And once that photo was collected, the researchers waited two years to publish their data while scientists from all over the world checked their work and signed off on the idea that what was photographed was actually a black hole.

What happens now?

The team isn’t done, though. They already are planning to create even bigger telescopes than the Earth-sized one they used by incorporating space telescopes like the Hubble and the soon-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope. This should allow researchers to take photos of dozens of other black holes. (VOA)

Next Story

Chinese Authorities Suspends Website for Black Hole Copyright: Report

Founded in June 2000, VCG had collected revenues to the tune of 700 million yuan ($104.18 million) in the first three quarters of 2018

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US clothing brand Gap has apologised for selling T-shirts which it said showed an
Accurate Map of China, Pixabay

Chinese authorities have suspended the website of the country’s largest stock images provider after it was found to have put its copyright mark on the first ever photo taken of a black hole, state-owned China Daily newspaper reported on Friday.

Visual China Group (VCG) has been alleged to have published with its watermark the black hole photo soon after it was released on Wednesday, leading the cyberspace affairs authority in Tianjin (north) to suspend its website, Efe news reported citing the daily.

The incident led to the National Copyright Administration in China announcing that it would launch a campaign to regulate the image copyright market, underlining that firms should set up mechanisms to uphold copyright as per legal requirements.

The copyright claim over a picture, which was released by Event Horizon Telescope and was not meant for commercial usage, meant that users downloading the image from VCG were required to pay for it.

All images provided by organizations like the European Southern Observatory and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are available for free as long as users cite the source.

The photo of the black hole, located 53.3 million light years from the Earth and taken by the Event Horizon Telescope, also fell under this category.

Black Hole
An image of the black hole at the center of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster. This black hole resides 55 million light-years from Earth and has a mass 6.5-billion times that of the sun.
VOA

The Chinese company issued a statement saying they had obtained the rights of the image for use in the media and not for commercial use such as advertisements.

However, ESO – which holds the rights over the image – has denied having received any message from VCG, and said it was illegal for the Chinese firm to ask money for the use of the photo.

The incident led to protests in social networks in the Asian country, some of them from other companies and organizations that found their own content on the VCG website.

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Moreover, the Communist Youth League Central Committee, on its official handle on Weibo – Chinese equivalent of Twitter – criticized VCG for making users pay for photographs of the national emblem on its website.

The authorities at Tianjin decided to suspend the website in the wake of the controversy, even though VCG released another statement with an apology and admitting that many of its images came from third parties without any ties to their company.

Founded in June 2000, VCG had collected revenues to the tune of 700 million yuan ($104.18 million) in the first three quarters of 2018. (IANS)