Inter-stellar photography

From America to the South Pole, a network of telescopes has captured the first ever image of a black hole.

First ever picture of a black hole. Source: Event Horizon Telescope

The super massive black hole is at the centre of the Messier 87 galaxy some 55 million light years away from Earth.

Curtin Astrophysics Professor Steven Tingay explains the find.

“A black hole is created by something which is so massive it collapses under its own gravity to an infinitely small point,” he said.

“The image shows in detail the behaviour of matter as it falls into a black hole.”

The existence of black holes was first theorised by Einstein in 1915-1916.

“For decades we’ve only had indirect proof of black holes, this is direct proof and confirms, within limits, our understanding of general relatively,” Professor Tingay said.

Observations of the black hole began in 2017 and Professor Tingay said each telescope collected individual data streams which were then gathered together to form an image.

Perth Observatory tour administrator Matthew Woods said the picture was a fantastic find.

“It is incredibly hard to take a photo of a black hole,” he said.

The participating telescopes of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). Source: ESO/O. Furtak

“This black hole is the size of our whole solar system [and it] took eight radio telescopes from around the world.

“It’s like having a telescope the size of the Earth,” he said.

Mr Woods said the find will greatly advance the study of black holes.

“We’ve never be able to see the event horizon itself because all light in there is doomed,” he said.

“The image brings the theory of relatively closer to the event horizon than ever before [and] it just proves Einstein is right again.”

Scientists are still working to create an image of our galaxy’s own black hole Sagittarius A and hope it will be completed in the coming months.

Curtin Astronomy honours student Mawson Sammons shares his views on the event.

Mawson Sammons Video: Jake Santa Maria