First in History, Int'l Project Captures Image of Black Hole

Science Society Technology

Tokyo, April 11 (Jiji Press)--For the first time in human history, an international team has succeeded in capturing an image of a black hole, through observations using eight radio telescopes on the globe, including the ALMA telescope in Chile.

Hopes are growing that the breakthrough will help understand black holes, mysterious astronomical objects with enormous masses but extremely compact sizes.

The black hole shown in the image is located at the heart of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster, members of the Event Horizon Telescope project participated by institutions from Japan, the United States, Europe and others announced on Wednesday. The black hole resides 55 million light years from Earth and has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the sun, according to the team.

"We have taken the first picture of a black hole," said EHT project director Sheperd Doeleman of the Center for Astrophysics, Harvard and Smithsonian. "This is an extraordinary scientific feat accomplished by a team of more than 200 researchers."

The EHT used a technique called very-long baseline interferometry (VLBI), which synchronizes telescopes around the globe and exploits Earth's rotation to form a huge Earth-sized virtual telescope with unprecedented sensitivity and resolution.

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