This Is The First Image Ever Taken Of A Black Hole

A virtual telescope the size of planet Earth has captured the first direct image of a black hole a century after Einstein's equations predicted the existence of black holes.

Specifically, the image captured was the mysterious region defined by the hole's event horizon, the point beyond which nothing – not even light – can escape, astronomers announced Wednesday.

"We have seen what we thought was unseeable," said Shep Doeleman, a radio astronomer at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and director of the Event Horizon Telescope project.

"We have seen, and taken a picture of, a black hole. This is a remarkable achievement."

The world's first image of a black hole. Source: CBS News.

The target was an enormous black hole, 6.5 billion times more massive than the sun, in the core of M-87, a giant elliptical galaxy about 55 million light years away in the constellation Virgo.

The black hole's six-and-a-half billion solar masses are crammed into a region about the size of a solar system.

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A familiar target for amateur astronomers, M-87 is one of the brightest radio sources in the sky, featuring a huge jet of material extending away from the core, powered by the voracious black hole.

The image captured by the Event Horizon Telescope shows a black central core — the event horizon — surrounded by a lopsided ring of light emitted by particles racing around the black hole at nearly the speed of light.

It closely resembles what astronomers expectedbased on simulations running the equations of Einstein's general theory of relativity.

"We now have visual evidence for a black hole," Doeleman said.

"We now know that a black hole that weighs 6.5 billion times what our sun does exists in the center of M-87. This is the strongest evidence we have to date for the existence of black holes. It is also consistent ... with Einstein's predictions."

Daniel Marrone, an astronomer at the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory said: "Today, general relativity has passed another crucial test. ... The object at the heart of M-87 is a black hole like those described by general relativity."