Plunging Into The Physics Of The First Black Hole Image

“As I like to say, it’s never a good idea to bet against Einstein,” astrophysicist Shep Doeleman told Science Friday back in 2016, when the Event Horizon Telescope project was just getting underway. Now, this week astronomers and astrophysicists are celebrating the first-ever black hole image—an image that offers more proof of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

At an illuminating press conference on Wednesday, April 10th, scientists shared the image for the first time: a slightly blurry lopsided ring of light encircling a dark shadow. The global telescope array was able to image this supermassive black hole from 55 million light years away, in the core of the galaxy Messier 87, or M87. But even as the image confirms current ideas about gravity, it also raises new questions about galaxy formation and quantum physics. Event Horizon Telescope director Shep Doelemen and Feryal Özel, professor of astrophysics at the University of Arizona and EHT study scientist, help us wrap our minds around the image. And Julie Hlavacek-Larrondo, assistant professor of physics and Canada research chair at the University of Montreal joins the conversation to talk about what scientists would like to discover next.

Relive the moment when the image was released and explore simulations, infographics, and visuals of the Event Horizon Telescope’s research below.

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