Telescopes Will Capture First Photo of a Black Hole
You have probably seen a fair share of black hole image interpretations (like the one above) if you have even the slightest interest in the cosmos, but to many people’s surprise there has actually never been a real photograph of this natural phenomenon. The fact of the matter is, black holes have still not even been absolutely proven to exist.
Scientists have good news for cosmo-lovers! A group of scientists are meeting up on Wednesday to discuss a project that will, in theory, capture a black hole for the first time in history. They will team up 50 powerful telescopes around the world in order to create an effect that they describe as a ‘mirror;’ which will hopefully make it possible to get an image containing the shadow of the black hole at the center of our galaxy (aka, The Milky Way).
If this team does capture an image of this black hole it will not only prove their existence, but it will put to question Einstein’s age old Theory of General Relativity. The fundamental problem of the whole project, which is being called ‘Event Horizon Telescope’ (Event Horizon being the boundary on the edge of a black hole at which physics can no longer explain what occurs), is that a black hole’s gravitational pull is so strong that it sucks light in. Thus, the only way to prove its existence is to capture the gigantic shadow that it makes.
What’s incredible about this supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy is that although it is four million times the mass of our sun, it appears to us as about the size as a grapefruit sitting on the moon. In other words, you need some serious technology and teamwork to pull something off like this.
“Nobody has ever taken a picture of a black hole,” says Dimitrios Psaltis, an associate professor of astrophysics at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory. “We are going to do just that.”
“Even five years ago, such a proposal would not have seemed credible,” said Sheperd Doeleman, assistant professor at MIT and principal investigator on the project. “Now we have the technological means to take a stab at it.”
“As dust and gas swirls around the black hole before it is drawn inside, a kind of cosmic traffic jam ensues,” says Doeleman.
“Swirling around the black hole like water circling the drain in a bathtub, the matter compresses and the resulting friction turns it into plasma heated to a billion degrees or more, causing it to ‘glow’ – and radiate energy that we can detect here on Earth.”
With the vast array of telescopes working together, it will allegedly be possible to see the outline of the black hole due to the glow that should appear around the outside. We are all very excited to see what will become of this new scientific venture! Do you think they will be able to capture this image?