For years, a breakthrough in black hole detection promised to answer a question that has dogged scientists since Einstein proposed the existence of black holes in his general theory of relativity: How do you document the presence of something that's invisible?
The black hole is about 6 billion times the mass of our sun and is in a galaxy called M87.
Supermassive black holes may sound pretty big, but they are actually relatively small in the grand scheme of the universe. "When we saw this come into focus, our jaws dropped", astrophysicist Shep Doelemansaid.
And it is not over yet.
Pointing to the screen at the European Research Council's news conference in Brussels, Falcke said that the much-sought-after image "looks like a ring of fire".
The project also targeted another black hole - Sagittarius A* is situated at the centre of our own Milky Way galaxy - but did not announce any pictures of that one, though scientists expressed optimism about getting such an image.
Black holes are not easy to capture on camera because they are surrounded by thick dust material and extremely hot gases.
Researchers said they will continue to refine the image and study the discovery, which brought astonishment and wonder to the team of over 200 people involved in the research, Doeleman said.
"Nature was very kind to us", he said. "It was such a relief to see this but also a surprise".
The kind of supermassive black hole imaged by the EHT is thought to exist at the centers of most galaxies.
The concept of black holes has captivated scientists for two centuries.
Obviously, the similarity between the Eye of Sauron and M87 were made immediately obvious.
Black holes are the "most extreme environment in the known universe", Broderick said, a violent, churning place of "gravity run amok".
At a press conference, scientists revealed a donut-like structure with a dark central region and a bright ring, which is the black hole'sshadow against a disc of glowing gas that falls onto the black hole.
The technique allowed astronomers to combine the power of massive observatories, including: ALMA, APEX, the IRAM 30-meter telescope, the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, the Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano, the Submillimeter Array, the Submillimeter Telescope and the South Pole Telescope.
"The determination of the black hole mass agrees beautifully with earlier measurements inferred from the velocities of stars", Ma Chung-Pei, a professor of physics and astronomy at University of California, Berkeley, told Xinhua. M87's black hole seems to have a far brighter crescent-like shape on the bottom left. So, we asked the physicists behind both images to help explain the differences.
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