Astronomers have managed to capture a photo of black hole, marking a massive turning point in our knowledge of the universe’s most mysterious objects and heralding a new era in scientific understanding. But my take? The photo is kinda lame. Bit blurry! Yawn!
The black hole itself is roughly 40 billion kilometres across – so, pretty big – and located in a distant galaxy 500 million trillion kilometres away. Basically, the likelihood of it coming anywhere near us is zero, in case that was something you were worried about.
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 was a precise operation requiring clear skies over all the telescopes and very very delicate coordination using atomic clocks.
If you want an explanation of how it all went down, you could do no better than seeing our resident handsome science expert Alan Duffy explaining it on ABC News Breakfast while barely being able to stop himself from leaping out of his seat with pure joy.
Please enjoy four minutes of @astroduff just BARELY containing his excitement has he talks about how we’ve captured the first ever image of a black hole.
“This is the unimaginable, the impossible photograph, and it’s a testament to humanity” pic.twitter.com/xdnGX6GDq1
— News Breakfast (@BreakfastNews) April 10, 2019
Computer scientist Katie Bouman has been credited with spearheading the development of the crucial new algorithm which helped pull the whole operation together. Turns out photographing a black hole trillions of kilometres away is fairly complex! Who would have thought!
Congratulations to Katie Bouman to whom we owe the first photograph of a black hole ever. Not seeing her name circulate nearly enough in the press.
Amazing work. And here’s to more women in science (getting their credit and being remembered in history) 💥🔥☄️ pic.twitter.com/wcPhB6E5qK
— Tamy Emma Pepin (@TamyEmmaPepin) April 10, 2019
Anyway, that’s what we got. A reddish-orange smudge representing basically the culmination of all scientific and astronomical development of the past few centuries. Very nice!