The entire Internet was excited for first photo in the history of the black hole, which has been known for a long time, but no one could get an image right now. This was made possible by the algorithms created by a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Katie Bouman.
April 10 unveiled the first ever photo of the black hole. “Imagine that you are from Earth trying to photograph an orange that is lying on the moon,” a member of an international research team described the shooting of a black hole.
The photo shows a black circle surrounded by a bright orange ring – this is the black hole of the Messier 87 galaxy (M87), which is located in the Virgo constellation about 55 million light years from Earth.
It is larger in size than the entire solar system, and its width reaches 400 billion kilometers — three million times the size of the Earth. Its mass exceeds the mass of the Sun 6.5 billion times, astronomers jokingly call it. “Heavyweight champion”.
However, scientists managed to photograph not the black hole itself, but its “shadow” – the way the hole looks against a bright and red-hot matter. This matter is made of gas. But the black hole itself is a part of the space-time that cannot be seen. She has such a powerful force of gravity that no object, not even a light, can leave it.
For three years, Katie Bouman worked with a team of three other scientists to create and develop algorithms that were supposed to provide an opportunity to get an image of a black hole. To create today’s snapshot, the team used a huge amount of video data (enough to fill a variety of hard drives), connecting photographs from eight telescopes located in Hawaii, Chile, Mexico, Spain, Arizona and Antarctica.
To take a picture of a black hole, scientists have placed radio telescopes in eight observatories on five continents. They observed a black hole during the week of April 2017. For two years, the obtained data was processed by supercomputers at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (Germany) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The image of a black hole promulgated by scientists confirms the theory of gravity and the general theory of relativity proposed by Albert Einstein: it was she who assumed the existence of black holes.
“We all watched as an image appeared on our computers,” says Katie, “the ring appeared so simple. This is incredible. ”
Six years ago, when Bouman joined the team, she had no idea about black holes, specializing in computer science and electronics. However, this did not prevent her from thinking about ways to see and depict things that are invisible, as she says.