First Impression of the First Black Hole Image
Updated: Feb 18, 2020
On April 10, 2019, a team of researchers captured the first ever photographic image of a black hole and its shadow, using a network of telescopes known as the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT).
A black hole is an extremely dense object from which no light can escape. Any particles (including particles of light) that comes within a black hole’s “event horizon,” (its point of no return), will be consumed and lost for an eternity because of the black hole’s unimaginably strong gravitational pull. By its very nature, a black hole cannot be seen, which is why the image we see is actually its shadow surrounded by light about to approach the event horizon.
It is so humbling and inspiring that we are the first generation to visibly witness this phenomenon. One day far in the future people, will look back at this date in history and learn where it all started. I believe that this is just the beginning of a new era in science and technology as it will impact the way we understand general relativity. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!
The image reminds me that Earth is minuscule compared to countless other objects with which we share the Milky Way Galaxy. One of the two black holes captured measured 40 billion km across… that’s three million times the size of Earth.
The internet has been littered with complaints of how underwhelming the image turned out to be. With all the build up, an impatient and incurious viewer might well find the comparatively simple image unimpressive. However, knowing a few of the scientific facts, not to mention the lengths that teams of scientists went to produce it, can quickly relieve critics of their complaints. For example, the light surrounding the black hole took about 50 million years to reach earth. From this perspective, who wouldn’t look tired and bit underwhelming after such a journey?
Overall, the Event Horizon team has delivered an image that forever stands as a testament to the human sense of wonder and accomplishment. This is a huge leap for mankind. It extends our understanding of the complex elements that make up the world around us. We all need to appreciate those moments when we notice the night sky and realize how much is out there, and remember that there is more to life then just our daily hustle and bustle