Fuel Your Imagination

The black hole

There are so many things we don’t know about the world, the universe and the tiny part we play in it; and probably even more that we have yet to even realise we don’t know.

Izzy Ashton

Assistant Editor, BITE

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There are so many things we don’t know about the world, the universe and the tiny part we play in it; and probably even more that we have yet to even realise we don’t know. So much of what we’re taught in science as children, and take great inspiration from, is the delight that can come from discovering something new, of being a pioneer in your field.

This delight was evident last week as the first image of a black hole was processed and beamed around the world. From a specific piece of code, researchers were able to locate the black hole in the enormous bank of data that had been collected by the Event Horizon Telescope project. This code had been developed by a team that included Katie Bouman, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard who quickly became the inspirational scientist face behind the algorithm.

The image is astounding, capturing in picture form something that’s frequently called one of the universe’s greatest mysteries, one that was previously thought to be invisible.

The black hole in the image is located in a galaxy called Messier 87, 55 million light years away from us and larger than the entire solar system. A black hole itself is impossible to see; what this image captures is what’s known as its ‘event horizon’ or the point beyond which not even light can return. This is what the golden ring shows.

The ability to capture an image of a black hole was previously thought to be impossible while a black hole’s existence was always difficult to prove. This image is the result of a years-long project from a global team of over 200 scientists. It represents the ultimate in international team work.

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