What is a black hole? Searching for what can't be seen

In Astrophysics Milestone First

The supermassive black hole, known as a quasar, is growing so fast it can devour a mass the size of the sun every two days.

The US National Science Foundation has scheduled a news.

This illustrationmost-distant supermassive black hole ever discovered. A black hole is identified by the particles around it as its gravitational pull brings in objects such as gas and dust of which some settle into an orbiting disk, with atoms jostling one another at extreme speeds.

Interested parties can watch the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration release the first of its kind image of the black hole via a live stream that will share the long-awaited breakthrough with an eager public.

How big is a black hole?

Recently revealed to represent a wide array of sizes - from tiny pinpricks to objects large enough to swallow a galactic cluster - black holes are formed when extremely large stars die, collapsing in upon themselves with a gravity so high that all matter and radiation - including light - is trapped inside the event horizon boundary layer. Though it is one of the most violent places in the universe, scientists do believe that radio telescopes can capture the event horizon by looking at its surroundings. The facilities were in Arizona, Hawaii, Mexico, Chile, Spain and even the South Pole.

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"At the centre of a black hole is something we call a "singularity" -- a huge amount of mass shrunk down to an infinitely small, zero-dimensional point in space". That may sound big, but at a distance of 25,640 light-years, the observational challenge has been compared to counting the dimples on a golf ball in Los Angeles ... from a viewing spot in NY.

The European Southern Observatory, one of the contributors, said the technique involves combining the data from the telescopes around the world to create a "virtual giant telescope". Since then, telescopes in France and Greenland have been added to the network. In an email, Agol also noted that a colleague of his at UW, Bruce Balick, was in on the discovery of Sagittarius A* 45 years ago.

The excitement is because they have observed two black holes, the one at the centre of our own galaxy, and the other more massive black hole at the centre of the galaxy M87.

"I am not involved in the EHT, so I haven't seen any of the results, but I am excited to see them!"

The goal of the Event Horizon Telescope team has been to spy the dark edge of a black hole in silhouette against that glowing backdrop of hot gas. Also what we might see might be a very low resolution version of the black hole depicted in that film. With a limited number of participating telescopes, even VLBI can take you only so far. Despite its size, trying to photograph the black hole located about 26,000 light years away is equivalent to trying to snap an image of a golf ball on the moon.

The EHT that collected the data for the first-ever image is unlike any ever devised.

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