Washington : Astronomers unvieled first ever true image of a blackhole, which could reveal the shape of the mysterious, warped region of the spacetime fabric that has fuelled human imagination and inspired numerous sci-fi movies and literature for generations.
The research was conducted by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, an international collaboration begun in 2012 to try to directly observe the immediate environment of a black hole using a global network of Earth-based telescopes. The image of a dark core with a flame-orange halo of gas and plasma shows a supermassive black hole 50 million lightyears away in a galaxy known as M87, they announced during simultaneous press conferences in Brussels, Shanghai, Tokyo, Washington, Santiago and Taipei.
Blackholes swallow the surrounding gas, which swirls around in a flattened disk, spiralling into it at speeds close to light. The radiation from this hot whirlpool, however, can be seen.
Scientists have imaged this radiation, expecting to see the shadow of the blackhole against it. "Basically, in the background light the shadow of blackhole can be seen. This is extremely important because although we had a lot of evidence about the existence of blackhole, but 'seeing is believing'," said Sudip Bhattacharyya, Associate Professor at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai.
The project's researchers obtained the first data in April 2017 using telescopes in the U.S. states of Arizona and Hawaii as well as in Mexico, Chile, Spain and Antarctica. Since then, telescopes in France and Greenland have been added to the global network. The global network of telescopes has essentially created a planet-sized observational dish.