"We have seen what we thought was unseeable".
This dark portrait of the event horizon was obtained of the supermassive black hole in the center of the galaxy Messier 87 (M87 for short) by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), an worldwide collaboration whose support includes the National Science Foundation. It would make sense to capture a photo of the closest black hole to Earth, especially if we want to see it in great detail.
Instead, the scientists used radio signals to capture the black hole's "shadow" - the bright ring that forms around its boundary, or "event horizon", when light bends due to the extreme gravity around the hole.
A world-spanning network of telescopes called the Event Horizon Telescope zoomed in on the supermassive monster in the galaxy M87 to create this first-ever picture of a black hole. "Something I've been working on for many, many years, trying to build a physical model of a black hole environment and predictions, and the opportunity to study the hearts of black holes is incredible".
This is the first-ever image of a black hole.
And it is not over yet. Turns out photographing a black hole trillions of kilometres away is fairly complex!
We are all set to find out whether astronomers have been able to record an image of a black hole.
The breakthrough adds major support for Einstein's theory of General Relativity and could help to answer longstanding questions on the nature of black holes.
Johns Hopkins astrophysicist Ethan Vishniac, who was not part of the discovery team but edits the journal where the research was published, pronounced the image "an awesome technical achievement" that "gives us a glimpse of gravity in its most extreme manifestation".
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.
"We've been hunting this for a long time", Dempsey said. "It was such a relief to see this but also a surprise".
Scientists have said that this image provides the strongest evidence so far that supermassive black holes exist.
"M87 is the nearest galaxy with a supermassive black hole that's generating a powerful jet - a lovely streamer made of plasma travelling at close to the speed of light", said Charles Gammie, a professor at the University of IL at Urbana-Champaign who is on the EHT Science Council Board. "By getting radio telescopes around the world to work in concert like one instrument, the EHT team achieved this, decades ahead of time". Editor's note: The Event Horizon Telescope was funded in part by the National Science Foundation, which also supports the PBS NewsHour. "The black hole is the Dark Souls dark sign", @GenePark tweeted, referencing the notoriously hard video game. And a quick glance will show you that it doesn't look anything like Gargantua, the black hole in the movie Interstellar. Material moving around the black hole is moving at light speeds.
There's still a lot to learn about what, exactly, we're looking at in this image.