The universe we live in is a wondrous and magical place. Since the dawn of time, human beings have tried to explore the surroundings to try and understand them. Over the last few centuries, we have turned our eyes to the stars.
Originally, it was thought that everything revolved around the Earth and it was flat, but was later discovered that this was not the case and since then, we have discovered something new about the vast universe around us.
Over the past few years, there have been groundbreaking discoveries about the universe and following that trend, a few days ago we captured the first image of a black hole. The news was everywhere because while much has been said about them, this was the first time we saw a captured image of a black hole. It even got our President to tweet about it.
For other science enthusiasts like me. One of the most informative press conferences I have ever seen. The first ever image from the 'event horizon' of a black hole in the M-87 galaxy, 54 million light years away.
Starts at 32 minute mark.https://t.co/kJRvPUjW8T pic.twitter.com/LgdZwXNeDd
— Dr. Arif Alvi (@ArifAlvi) April 10, 2019
Here are a few interesting things you might not have known about this achievement:
1) Black Hole is Much Bigger!
While you have seen the image of the black hole floating around on social media, not many are aware that it is a zoomed in picture and here you can see it zoomed out. It looks utterly mesmerizing and surreal; a phoenix rising from the ashes.
2) Here is the Amount of Data Used to Capture the Image:
The first image is of Margaret Hamilton standing next to the code she wrote by hand. It was used to send man to the moon. The second is of Katie Bouman, the lead on the team that developed the algorithm used to capture the image standing next to hard drives containing data that was used to capture it – 5 petabytes (5 million GB).
3) The Earth was Turned into a Telescope:
When humanity comes together, it always creates something magical and the same can be said in this regard as the whole Earth was turned into a giant telescope with telescopes all over the world banding together to take that picture of the black hole.
First ever direct image of a black hole! The supermassive black hole in the galaxy M87 — 6.5 billion times as massive as the Sun! #EHT #BlackHole The image is better than I expected! pic.twitter.com/Tv7I36v4xQ
— Katie Mack (@AstroKatie) April 10, 2019
The rest can be explained here by Dr. Katie Mack
4) Einstein and Hawking Were Proven Correct:
Einstein, over a century ago, stated the Theory of General Relativity and the picture confirms it. You can read more about it here.
5) Meet the People Behind It:
Katie Bouman helped develop the algorithm that allowed the world to see what a black hole actually looks like.
Here she is just moments after that first image was processed. pic.twitter.com/AK9ZHQjJ2r
— Unearthed (@UE) April 11, 2019
Dr. Bouman was on the team that developed the algorithm, it would not have been possible without the help of Feryal Ozel an astronomy and astrophysics Professor at the University of Arizona; she was on the Science Council that wrote a paper on how to go about taking a picture of a black hole. You should read about the rest of the team here.
6) We Traveled Back in Time
Yes, you read that right, the black hole is millions of lights year away and the picture you see in front of you is not the black hole from a few days ago but from millions of years ago.
For all the outlets and people saying that the black hole photo "isn't very good."
Y'all-we turned our *planet* into a telescope. A telescope as big as the Earth! We went back in time 55 million years to look at an object that eats light. Melt your icy hearts you monsters! pic.twitter.com/LqD3O9JPEi
— Shannon Stirone (@shannonmstirone) April 10, 2019
Wanna see, what Earth was up to when this picture was taken?
A tweet reminded me astronomical images of distant objects are old. This is what humanity's primate ancestors looked like about 50,000,000 years ago when the M87 black hole posed for the mind-blowing photo in today's news. (This is called plesiadapis.) pic.twitter.com/0owN691oQu
— Zach Throckmorton (@throckman) April 11, 2019