Scientists have unveiled the landmark first image of a black hole from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) programme in a bid to test Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
The project, which relied on data from a global network of telescopes, targeted two supermassive black holes at the centre of different galaxies.
Before unveiling the picture, the European commissioner for research, Carlos Moedas, said we are about to experience a first for humanity.
He said: “The history of man and of science will be divided into the time before the image and the time after the image.”
The much anticipated image shows a bright ring formed as light bends in the intense gravity around a black hole.
Scientists have said that this image provides the strongest evidence so far that supermassive black holes exist.
German astronomer, Professor Falcke said at the press conference: “It feels like looking at the gates of Hell, at the end of Space and Time.
“The event horizon, the point of no return. That is awe inspiring to me at least, but it is also important for physics.”
Physicist and black hole expert Lia Medeiros, from the University of Arizona, told ScienceNews magazine: “If general relativity buckles at a black hole’s boundary, it may point the way forward for theorists.”
Black holes are formed when huge stars collapse at the end of their life cycle, but because they do not allow light to escape, it can be difficult to see them.
US National Science Foundation Director France Cardova said: “This is a huge day in astrophysics.
“We’re seeing the unseeable.”
Scientists say that the black hole image findings support Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
However astronomers have said they will do more work and look more at black holes to learn more.
Astronomers believe that images of Sagittarius A, which is a black hole at the centre of the Milky Way, will show a lopsided ring of brightness due to the gravity bending light closer to the black hole.
Scientists are hoping that the image will help them to understand Einstein’s theory of general relativity and quantum mechanics.
Einstein’s theory relates to laws of nature on cosmic scales and quantum mechanics is linked to the world of subatomic particles where it is possible to be in two places at once.
New conferences have taken place across the world today, Wednesday March 10, to disclose the “groundbreaking result” from the EHT project.
The project first launched in April 2017.