Astronomers release a new image of the supermassive black hole M87* using EHT data

A team of astronomers has released a new image of the supermassive black hole M87* on January 18, 2024, using new data taken from the observation of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) in April 2018.

The ring size remains the same in the new image of the supermassive black hole M87
The ring size remains the same in the new image of the supermassive black hole M87*. (Image credit: EHT Collaboration)

The new image validates the original finding of the supermassive black hole M87* that was observed through the same telescope in April 2017.

The original finding of M87* is important because it represents the first image of a black hole that humans captured in 2017.

The supermassive black hole M87* is located at the center of the Messier 87 (M87) galaxy, which is 55 million light-years away from Earth. The black hole is 6.5 billion times more massive than our sun.

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is an array of eight radio telescopes stretching across the planet. The telescope is named after the event horizon, the boundary of the black hole beyond which no light can escape.  

Map showing the radio observatories that participated in the EHT 2018 campaign
Map showing the radio observatories that participated in the EHT 2018 campaign. (Image credit: A&A)

These radio telescopes are linked together to capture the images of black holes. A newly commissioned Greenland Telescope (GLT) is also added to this array to capture the new image of the supermassive black hole M87*.

Please remember that capturing a black hole is totally different from capturing a planet, star, or galaxy. The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) captures radio waves emitted by black holes and then computationally combines the information to form a picture.

The new image of the supermassive black hole M87* observed in 2018 reveals a familiar, bright ring of the same size as that observed in 2017. This was predicted from Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

This bright ring is a glowing disk of hot matter circling the black hole, and the central dark region is known as a black-hole shadow.

The black hole’s immense gravitational field creates this central dark region, as no light can escape from this region.

However, the brightest portion of the glowing ring surrounding M87* has shifted about 30 degrees counterclockwise compared to the images from 2017. The movement is likely the result of the turbulent flow of matter around a black hole, according to the EHT.

A recent scientific paper has been published on the above findings in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

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Ashim

Ashim Chandra Sarkar founded Space & Telescope in 2022. He holds a M.Sc. in physics and has five years of research experience in optical astronomy. His passion for astronomy inspired him to open this website. He is responsible for the editorial vision of spaceandtelescope.com.

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