Picturing a Black Hole

Though we have plenty of data confirming that they exist, humanity has never directly seen an image of a black hole, the mysterious singularities that warp the spacetime continuum by virtue of their huge masses, producing such gravitational force that not even light can escape .

There have been many simulations and illustrations based on observations—including scientifically-inspired simulations of what the accretion disk might look like, such as the one depicted in the Christopher Nolan movie Interstellar—but astronomers to this day don’t truly know what a black hole looks like, or, more accurately, what their “shadow” looks like. (Note that imaging a black hole directly is impossible, given that they do not emit light; rather, astronomers aim to capture the matter that swirls around them at incredible speed due to their immense gravity, and which often radiates light.)

Now, astronomers believe they are on the verge of attaining the first direct image of a black hole’s silhouette, based on observations made by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), which are expected to be unveiled this year.

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