First Image of a Black Hole Named Science’s 2019 Breakthrough of the Year

Black Hole at the Heart of M87

This artist’s impression depicts the black hole at the heart of the enormous elliptical galaxy Messier 87 (M87). This black hole was chosen as the object of paradigm-shifting observations by the Event Horizon Telescope. The superheated material surrounding the black hole is shown, as is the relativistic jet launched by M87’s black hole. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Honoring a feat that was once considered impossible, Science has named the Event Horizon Telescope’s image of a supermassive black hole as its 2019 Breakthrough of the Year. The image reveals one of the darkest and most elusive phenomena in the known universe.

“This was a great year for science, but what could be more wondrous than actually seeing a black hole? It sounds like magic, but it was really an astonishing feat of teamwork and technology,” says Tim Appenzeller, Science’s news editor.

Black holes are immensely dense cosmic objects with gravity so strong that they capture and consume everything surrounding them, including light. Since they reflect no light, black holes often hide in plain sight, perfectly camouflaged against the inky black of the void. However, by imaging the cloud of hot, brightly glowing gas that surrounds it, the EHT team of more than 200 scientists was able to capture the silhouette of the supermassive black hole that lies at the center of Messier 87 (M87), a galaxy nearly 55 million light-years from Earth.

First Image of a Black Hole

Using the Event Horizon Telescope, scientists obtained an image of the black hole at the center of galaxy M87, outlined by emission from hot gas swirling around it under the influence of strong gravity near its event horizon. Credit: EHT

While massive—M87’s black hole weighs as much as 6.5 billion suns—it is small by galactic standards at roughly the size of our Solar System. “I’m still kind of stunned,” said Roger Blandford, a Stanford University astrophysicist. “I don’t think any of us imagined the iconic image that was produced.”

The historic image of the distant stellar object also captured the minds and imaginations of people worldwide — from front-page international news stories to internet memes — and quickly became the most downloaded image in the history of the National Science Foundation’s website. Currently, plans are underway for more observations with even greater resolution; “this year’s triumph is the beginning, not the culmination, of this research project, said Blandford.

Read SciTechDaily’s coverage of the first black hole image:

4 Comments on "First Image of a Black Hole Named Science’s 2019 Breakthrough of the Year"

  1. No, scientists manufactured an image based on countless highly questionable processes, assumptions, and fudging that they’re now marketing as a black hole to keep their gravy train going strong. Take a very long look at how this imaged was actually created and it becomes obvious it’s completely bogus.

  2. Jennifer B. Hamm | June 15, 2020 at 12:19 am | Reply

    Science has been progressing with an immense speed. This is a very big achievement in the field of science and I prefer students to read more stuff at . We listen a number of rumors about the black hole in our life but this will help in discovering and revealing the truth about the black hole. Thanks for sharing.

  3. abdulmajidsheikh | September 2, 2020 at 11:19 pm | Reply

    Black holes are areas of space in which the gravity is strong enough to prevent all the fastest moving objects from escaping. regards:

  4. zachery kessler | February 23, 2021 at 6:30 pm | Reply

    This is actually an astonishing article. I am really impressed with the information you have provided. Keep up the good work.

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