The term “black hole” was coined because black holes suck in all the light, leaving nothing optical to observe. Yet humans have managed to snap photos of these mystical supermassive space objects light years away.
As we enjoy the first photo of a black hole in the Milky Way, let’s take a look at some interesting things you might want to know.
Why can’t we “see” black holes?
Humans see things through the reflection of visible light. We cannot visually see a black hole because it is so massive that it pulls light with gravity – much like the Earth pulls us to its surface.
How did scientists then photograph the black hole?
Scientists are humans and they can’t see black holes either. But they can use advanced technologies to monitor objects around the black hole to learn more.
In addition to pulling things towards it, a black hole can also dramatically distort the space around it. It also provides data for scientists to visualize.
For the photo released on Thursday, scientists from many countries around the world used observatories to form a virtual Earth-sized telescope to capture the image.
Is this the very first photo of a black hole?
No. This is only the first photo of a black hole located along the Milky Way called Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*).
The first photo of a black hole was revealed in 2019 by the same project, called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration. The EHT is the giant telescope mentioned above.