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The image is of a black hole in the centre of Messier 87, the largest galaxy we are aware of, around 54 million light-years away.

UA scientists were key players in giving us our first look at a black hole.

This image from the Event Horizon Telescope shows the supermassive black hole in the elliptical galaxy M87, surrounded by superheated material. "If the black hole is spinning, that's telling you how much angular momentum it has, which tells you about all the things it had to swallow to make itself in the first place".

OZEL: We have no other object quite like a black hole.

The research was conducted by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, an worldwide collaboration begun in 2012 to try to directly observe the immediate environment of a black hole using a global network of Earth-based telescopes. Four imaging teams on supercomputers needed two years to crunch all the data.

Black holes are one of the predictions of the General theory of relativity, which Albert Einstein about a century ago. The image shows a bright ring formed as light bends in the intense gravity around a black hole that is 6.5 billion times more massive than the Sun. "Magnetic fields act to brake the rotation of the black hole and transfer its rotational energy to the jet".

"We found literally the proverbial hole in the middle of this galaxy, and to me that is just stunning", said astrophysicist Dimitrios Psaltis of the University of Arizona, the EHT project scientist.

"They deserve an enormous amount of credit for their diligence and dedication", Marrone said, "because without it, we couldn't have made an image".

While the actual image may not seem that impressive, this is mankind's first glimpse of a black hole, which is an extremely dense object from which no matter can escape, even light.

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"History books will be divided into the time before the image and after the image", said Michael Kramer from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in one of the press conferences.

"This is an extraordinary scientific feat accomplished by a team of more than 200 researchers", EHT project director Sheperd Doeleman said in a news release.

The next best option was to spot the nearest bright regions around the black hole. They can vary widely in size and mass.

The image captured is the result of years of global collaboration, which offers scientists a new way to study the most extreme objects in the Universe predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity during the centennial year of the historic experiment that first confirmed the theory, according to Academia Sinica. The scientists are now processing the data collected by the telescopes and hope to release a photo in the very near future.

Researchers said that Sagittarius A* was too "active" to capture a clear picture, but the M87 blackhole - which measures 40 billion km across - was more photogenic.

The photo was captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a network of eight linked telescopes spanning the globe in locations as disparate as Antarctica, Chile and Spain. It's a comprehensive explanation of gravity that the former patent clerk thought of in 1915 before computers and with much weaker telescopes.

"A direct observation of black hole will be tremendous for our understanding of the spacetime that we are in", Yau Shing-Tung, mathematician and a senior faculty member of Harvard's Black Hole Initiative, told Xinhua.

If the data is collected at the same time, scientists can use it to produce an image.


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