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Scientists See Black Hole for First Time


The first picture of a Black Hole has been taken by the Event Horizon Telescope team.  It was released Wednesday and lies within the center of Messier 87, a large galaxy comprised of trillions of stars.  The black hole is about 24 billion miles across and located a distance of 55 million light-years from Earth.


Black Hole "Powehi" in the Messier 87 Galaxy

It has been christened Powehi, Hawaiian for "embellished dark source of unending creation."  Both the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and the Submillimeter Array at Mauna Kea Observatory of Hawaii were used in contributing to the discovery.

Telescopes at seven other locations on the Earth:  Arizona, Mexico, Chile, Spain, France, Greenland, and Antarctica were combined into one giant virtual telescope causing an effective diameter the size of the Earth.  The first sighting of a black hole was the topic of a previous article in 2018, the year predicted a black hole would be seen. However, it appears that on top of the complexities of processing 5,000 trillion bytes of data from the telescope array, shipping hard drives (because of too much data to download) to MIT and the Max Planck Institute in Germany, the lack of flights out of Antarctica because of severe weather, is that each telescope stationed in various places around the world need a clear sky at the same time – and this might occur only once per year.  But all those stumbling blocks finally resolved and the picture finally taken.  It required 200 scientists, a collection of supercomputers, and two years of data processing.  The breakthrough image shows a ring of fuzzy light orbiting a dark circular center.  The ring of light is sometimes called the accretion disk and edge of this ring of light adjacent to the black circular spot is called the Event Horizon, the point at which all matter is pulled by gravity into the black hole never to return.