In a picture: ‘Now we know what a black hole is' Horizon: EU Research and Innovation magazine

We spoke to Dr Heino Falcke, Dr Luciano Rezzolla, and Dr Michael Kramer, researchers on the European BlackHoleCam project – which was part of Horizon Telescope's (EHT) global collaboration – what the image means to them, for black holes. and Einstein's Theory on relativity.

Dr Heino Falcke, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands

This is the ultimate edge of space and the time;

Dr Falcke says the result opens ten years of study of black holes as never before. Image credit - Dirk Vos

It was an emotional journey, I have to say. It started from when I was a PhD student and I found that, at certain radio frequencies, radiation would come from you near the horizon of the event (black hole). That was in the early 1990s. We published a paper that said that there is an umbrella of black holes which you can see using the current technology, this inter-geometric technology (VLBI) which we are currently using. This was around 2000. I seriously said that we can do this in 10 years time, and now we have 19 years. So I had two factors at two things! But we did it.

I have seen many beautiful images about how your black hole should look. Most of them look better than the real image, but that first image, you see it and you think: ow Wow, it's really like that ’. It was such a emotional moment.

I am a lay priest. I am prescribed in a Protestant church, I do services, but I am not a professional. I talk to (people) about science and religion and these are natural things to me. This really helped science. As a child, I thought of the things behind the universe, what is behind the heavens, what is the first? What faces the Big Bang?

(In this experiment), everything was almost perfect. I did not personally expect that this result would come as soon as possible. I was brace for five years blood, sweat and tears. It was two years of blood, sweat and tears, but these were intense years. He worked (looking at the black hole) almost from the first day (in April 2017), but it took another year to reduce and analyze the data. In summer 2018 we published the first images and then in April 2019 we published.

I think this could be the beginning of a new and exciting era. For the first time we see the occasional event and we can study the relationship and general relationship of a scale that never has been possible before. This decade is actually ten years studying black holes as never before. We always knew they should be theoretical concepts. This is the ultimate edge of space and time.

It is wonderful to see the prophecy that Siún brings. (Stephen) Hawking was probably the same reaction I had, thinking these things theoretically. It would be totally about emotional, but he died a little too early to see that. Einstein was forced to cope with the concept of the event's actual event, and to think that this is really a real thing of the universe, it would be completely calming for him.

Dr Luciano Rezzolla from Goethe University Frankfurt in Germany

Seo This project is a testament to the ability to work together.

Dr Rezzolla says that the image could only be captured using multiple radio telescopes at different points in the world. Image credit - J. Lecher, Goethe University

Telescopes are radio telescopes that we used, which collect radio waves. A black hole is very small, unfortunately, and the black holes we are looking for are far from us, in the middle of our galaxy or in the middle of a nearby galaxy. What you want is the ability to see images from the center of these things and so you have a high secret.

Our largest telescopes are not enough on Earth. The resolution you want would allow you to see an orange on the surface of the moon. So if you can't build a telescope more than a few hundred meters, maybe you can combine two telescopes that are far apart and imagine that they are one telescope?

This is called radio inter-absorbency and the technique used is called a very long baseline mediation (VLBI). The idea is to take two telescopes and take them far apart, to say one at the South Pole and one in France, and make sure they are looking at the same source at the time same.

You can do even better by having more than two telescopes. We looked at eight at the same time, so as the Earth rotates, there are three or four that are always focused on the right source. And then you have to (the details) put together. This seems to be a trivial step, but it costs us a lot of time. You cannot transfer this data over the internet (because there are so many), so you have to take the data in hard disks and ship it across different continents.

We have built an image that we believe is consistent with what we would expect from a curved black hole in general relation. This is the theory that Einstein put together that provides very simple information for this type of phenomenon. The source is M87, a galaxy that is close to us. It is about 1,000 times more than the black hole in the center of our galaxy.

I am an enthusiastic sailor and about a year ago I was sailing the Atlantic from the east to the west. And there was a very pleasant opportunity for me to look at the sky in an unpolluted light, as unpolluted and as it gets. It makes you feel very small and lucky to be on this planet.

This project is a testament to the ability of the person to work together. Everyone has difficult aspects, but it is nice to see that passion for science and knowledge can break these short-core and self-centered views, and can push and encourage hundreds of people to work. together to get more result than all of us.

In our view this funding would enable us to build the first black hole picture and this picture would appear in all textbooks. I hope this is to happen. Now we know what a black hole is like.

Dr Michael Kramer, Radio Astronomy Institute Max Planck, Germany

Aire History books will be divided into the time before and after the image. '

Dr Kramer says that this image remains the best evidence we have that there are actually black holes. Image credit - NARIT

Black holes had a false history. They were suggested as a result of a general relationship, but the concept of black holes is much older and dates back to the 18th century. And while the solution was there, there were theoretical problems to understand the time-space near the horizon of the event. There was no observational evidence for black holes basically until the 1960s.

Then when quasars (high-heated material turning around black holes) and X-ray fluids (neutron star or black star star) were found, black holes were suddenly needed (to explain). We needed a very energetic way of converting energy to radiation that is so strong that we can still see it on very large distances.

Our next best evidence came from observations of so-called S stars at a huge thing direction in the middle of our galaxy. This object was not seen but you can calculate the mass, in this case about 4 million suns. And the best evidence seems to be an excellent black hole.

Then, of course, LIGO (the Flame Clearing Wave Observatory) emerged (which found black holes blended through gravitational waves), and this was the best evidence we had to date for black holes. So the idea about the Horizon Telescope of the Event is that we see a shadow (of black hole) for the first time. There are a number of unique features that only create a margin of events, such as a bright photon ring stuck before entering the event sky. And that's what we see.

The quality of the data is not similar to what we might have seen in films Interstellar, but all the features are there. The image shows all the features you would expect from a black hole and an event. You see a photon ring, you see a bright ring around the black hole and you see a shadow in the middle.

This is an excellent black hole and is six million sun masses, giving you (diameter) billions of kilometers. But because it is so wide, we can see it in this relatively large length of 53 million light years. We have now made efforts on M87 and when it is out, we will focus on Sagittarius A * (the excellent black hole in the center of the Milky Way).

I think we were all confident to succeed us. The borders are pushing for technology, but we have no doubt that we will succeed. However, nothing prepares you at the moment when you see it for the first time. It is brilliant.

History books will be shared in advance of the image and after the image. This is the first time this has been possible, and it has long been done. We finally succeeded, and it may not be better here.

As told by Jonathan Callaghan

The research in this Article was funded by the EU European Research Council. If you liked this article, think about sharing it on social media.

M87 is an excellent black hole, which first image exists, it many times more than our sun. Image credit - EHT co-operation

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