For the first time ever, astronomers were able to capture the image of a black hole at the center of Messier 87 galaxy, 55m light years from Earth.
It is 6.5 billion times more massive than the Sun.
The image was captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) involving around 200 scientists in several countries including Spain, Chile, and Antarctica.
Did you know: If scientists were to use only one telescope to capture the image of a black hole, the telescope would need to be almost as large as the Earth itself.
So, scientists had to use several telescopes located in different parts of the world and merge their gathered data using an algorithm developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) student, Katie Bouman.
According to Bouman, taking an image of a black hole is like taking a photo of a grapefruit from the moon using a regular camera.
“To image something this small means that we would need a telescope with a 10,000-kilometer diameter, which is not practical, because the diameter of the Earth is not even 13,000 kilometers,” she said in a 2016 interview.
Scientists captured the image by using radio wavelengths through radio telescopes. Bouman said it will be more difficult to capture an image at the center of the universe using visible wavelengths.
What’s the difference: Visible wavelengths, to put it simply is visual light. Think of rainbows. Radio wavelengths, on the other hand, have longer frequencies. Radio stations use them to bring you your favorite tunes no matter where you are.
“Just like how radio frequencies will go through walls, they pierce through galactic dust. We would never be able to see into the center of our galaxy in visible wavelengths because there’s too much stuff in between,” she said.
With the first captured image, EHT said it opens more opportunities in understanding black holes and event horizons.
Black holes were first predicted by Albert Einstein in his theory of relativity.
Imagine: A soft bed with nothing on it—just a soft, flat bed. We will call it space and time bed. If you put a heavy object on it, like a bowling ball, for example, the flat surface of the bed would curve—that’s what gravity does.
Einstein attributes gravity to the warping of space and time by matter and energy.
His equation theorized that if a massive amount of energy is concentrated into one compact place, space and time would collapse—creating a black hole.—Aileen Cerrudo
Stargazers will have another opportunity to witness a meteor shower as the Eta Aquarid begins its peak on Tuesday (May 5) until 3:00 a.m. on Wednesday (May 6).
The Eta Aquarid is a result of the Earth’s passing close to the orbit of Halley’s comet twice a year, according to Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
PAGASA also said the meteor shower is best observed a few hours before dawn and is more favorable to southern hemisphere viewers.
“In the Northern Hemisphere, about 20 or more meteors per hour at the pre-dawn sky of May 6 may be seen,” PAGASA said. “The point from where the meteors appear to radiate is located within the constellation Aquarius, the Water Bearer.” AAC
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