Tech

The first ever image of a black hole is revealed to the world

Key Points
  • Astronomers reveal the first ever close-up images of a black hole.
  • The discovery lends weight to Einstein's theory of relativity.
  • The black hole is 53.49 million light-years away from Earth.
VIDEO1:0701:07
Here's the first-ever photo of a black hole

Astronomers have revealed the first ever close-up images of a black hole Wednesday, a landmark finding that strengthens Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity.

Scientists in six cities on three continents simultaneously unveiled the first ever picture of the mysterious phenomenon, with the image generated by its own shadow.

Closeup image of galaxy center Chandra X-ray Observatory close-up of the core of the M87 galaxy.
NASA

The project revealed an image of a black hole sited at the center of the Messier 87 galaxy, which is 53.49 million light-years away from Earth.

The image is a result of work carried out over a 10-year period by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration. Radio telescopes from around the world were used to capture the image.

Prior to its release, the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas described it as a "huge breakthrough for humanity," before noting the incredible nature of Einstein's thoery.

"We are about to take a picture, a picture, of something that one man, one man alone dreamed, imagined 100 years ago in 1915."

Einstein vindicated

Astrophysicist Dimitrios Psaltis, from the University of Arizona and the EHT project scientist, said that Einstein's calculations made in 1915 now looked even more accurate, according to Reuters.

"The size and shape of the shadow matches the precise predictions of Einstein's general theory of relativity, increasing our confidence in this century-old theory."

Lambert | Getty Images

In his famous 1915 study, Einstein used approximate math solutions to further a new way of describing gravity. When German astrophysicist Karl Schwarzschild picked up the baton just months later, he finished off Einstein's calculations by suggesting that any object with a tiny enough mass could travel so fast as to rip the fabric of space and time.

Schwarzschild said this object would also collapse in on itself, creating a bottomless pit of gravitation that nothing could escape from.

In the late 1960s, the U.S. astrophysicist John Archibald Wheeler would come to describe these phenomena as "black holes."

- David Kennedy contributed to this report.