The story of the existence of black holes started in 1916 when scientists have proposed theoretical arguments about this subject. After that, around 1970, the theory was justified by some extremely dense areas of matter, and in 2016 thanks to the evolution of science, the first gravitational waves were detected. The theory says that black holes produce those gravitational waves and their existence can prove that. So it was shown now, in 2019 with the first picture of the black hole.
For us to see the picture of a black hole, a lot of hard work and years of work have been necessary. Two hundred scientists from 59 institutes across 18 countries have collaborated to make this possible by collecting data from eight telescopes from Hawaii to the South Pole.
The telescopes united are 4,000 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope, and it has a lens like the size of Earth. As we have seen in the photograph, a glowing orange ring is on the background because the galaxy M87, it’s emanating a jet from the vicinity of the black hole. The founding director of the Black Hole Initiative, Abraham Avi Loeb, is explaining that what we see in the picture is the shadow of the black hole on the background composed by the hot gas emissions at the base of the jet.
Scientists spotted a black hole bigger than our Solar System
Moreover, the theory surrounding M87 galaxy is that it became so significant because it had swallowed around 100 smaller galaxies. At the same time, the same argument applies to the black hole and its massive size, and it was created by merging with other black holes.
Maybe this is the first black hole that we could see because of the size and relative proximity. Harvard astronomy professor Jonathon E. Grindlay says that without the system of these telescopes united and working together, this incredible technical and scientific achievement couldn’t be done. Also, only thinking of the five petabytes (5 million gigabytes) of data gathered for this image to be created couldn’t have been possible a decade ago.
Finally, the discoveries will not stop here. The science and devices will evolve more than now, and the scientists still have more questions to answer about the black hole, if it’s for sure bigger than our Solar System, what’s inside of a black hole and many more.