It was days that we were waiting for the one that should be one of the most important announcement of the astrophysics’ history and already it was rumored that it might be about the black holes. On wednesday 10 April 2019 it was shown to the world the first image of the most mysterious, astonishing and terrifying planetary body: a black hole. To be exact it is the black hole in the middle of the galaxy M87, 55 millions of light years away.
What are the black holes
The first image of a black hole marks a major breakthrough. A direct and visible proof of the most mysterious and studied planetary body which opens new ways for the astrophysics study. Many called it the “picture of the century”, but what are the black holes and how were they until that moment?
The black hole are a region of the space time where the curvature is such big that nothing can get away. The black holes are in the middle of almost all galaxies, included the Milky Way, and many claims that they are the entrance door to other universes.
The gravitational field of a black hole is such intense that nothing inside it, neither the light, can run away, trapped in an invisible monster. But how are the black holes created? They are the product of a super nova’s explotion, a star highly massive, that by collapsing gives life to an invisible and terrifying planetary body.
One started to talk about the black holes in the 1916, a year after the publishing of the Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. By the way at the beginning those were theories with no proofs to reinforce them. Last week, finally, the proof that many were waiting for more than a century arrived and it’s not late to say “Einstein was right”.
The proof of the existence of the black holes
Even though this is the conclusive proof of the existence of the black holes, it is not the only one or the first one. We are sure since years now that the one that in the twentieth century was only a theory is reality. The image only opens new amazing scenarios and finishes a positive series of discoveries that brought to the demonstration of the existence of the black holes.
Less than one week ago we didn’t have yet an image of the black hole, however their existence were confirmed by the movements of the other planetary bodies around them. An invisible planetary body with a huge mass that attracts everything toward itself.
We obtained one of the first hard evidence in the 2015, when the LIGOs (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) “looked” two collision between two black holes: the first ones with respectively 36 and 29 solar masses and the second ones with 14 and 8 solar masses.
The black hole in the middle of the Galaxy M87
The image that we have and that we are seeing everywhere for days, is the one of the supermassive back hole in the middle of the Galaxy M87, which is 55 milions of light years away.
By the way the study, which took years, that brought to the realisation of the image became famous, wasn’t focused only on it, but even on the supermassive black hole in the middle of the Milky Way: Sagittarius A.
That invisible monster that keeps our birth galaxy tight in a galactic vice. While learning to know them we started even to be worry about them.
Anyway there is nothing to be worry about: there aren’t black holes so close to our Solar System to catch it. However, besides the supermassive one in the middle of it, the Milky Way counts one hundred minor black holes, spreaded somewhere in the galaxy.
Now that the Galaxy M87 became famous for its black hole, many believe that this deserves a more charming and intriguing name, like the one given by Larry Kimura, professor in the University of Hawaii: Powehi, which means “beautiful fathomless dark creation”.
The first image of a black hole
The first image of a black hole was improperly called photography, even if it isn’t a real picture, but the result of two years work.
We can’t observe with the naked eye a black hole, but like we learnt by many studies about the planetary body, we can observe the matter that goes around it. And between all the matter the one that get closer to the black hole is the light. Here you have why the first image of a black hole seems a bright disc.
To realize the image was a team of the EHT (Event Horizon Telescope), an international team that studies the M87 black hole and Sagittarius A, which will, probably, be the protagonist of the next “shot”.
To realize the image the researchers spent alternatively 10 days in the 2017, by looking nonstop the place where there is the black hole, collecting a datas quantity such big that can’t be transfer via internet.
The collected datas are stored to the MIT, in Massachussets, and to the Max Planck, in Germany, and with them it was possible to realize the “picture of the century”.
This post is also available in: Italiano