Astronomers trying to capture photograph of a black hole

Astronomers trying to photograph a black hole

An international team of astronomers have embarked on a new project, dubbed the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), to capture the first-ever picture of a black hole.

By their very basic nature, black holes are just impossible to spot as their overwhelming gravity doesn’t allow even light to escape. Scientists know that a massive black hole lies at the core of our galaxy. But they have failed to capture its image till date.

The massive black hole lurking in the darkness at the heart of the Milky Way called Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*) can be felt but it can’t be seen. However that could change soon as the EHT will use a system of radio telescopes around the globe to have a look at the gigantic black hole.

By linking up observatories in Arizona, Hawaii, California, Chile, Mexico, Spain and Antarctica, the project has created a radio instrument equivalent the size of the entire Earth.

Gopal Narayanan, of University of Massachusetts Amherst, said, “At the very heart of Einstein's general theory of relativity, there is a notion that quantum mechanics and general relativity can be melded, that there is a grand, unified theory of fundamental concepts. The place to study that is at the event horizon of a black hole.”

Shep Doeleman, an astronomer from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, called black holes the “most mysterious” objects in the entire universe; and added that trying to spot a black hole is like trying to image a grape on Moon’s surface.

In addition to Sagittarius A*, the EHT will target a second, even more massive black hole in neighboring galaxy M87.

"We hope to see the un-seeable," Sheperd Doeleman, director of this EHT, told NBC. "We want to see something that by its very nature tries to do everything it can not to be seen. It's the ultimate cloaking device."

"During the current campaign, EHT is also eyeing the supermassive black hole at the core of the galaxy M87, which lies 53.5 million light-years from Earth. This monster black hole's mass is about 6 billion times that of the sun, so its event horizon is larger than that of Sgr A*," informed Gopal Narayanan, an astronomy research professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

A report published by CS Monitor informed, "Black holes are regions of space where matter is squeezed together so densely that everything, including light, becomes trapped in its gravitational pull. As a result, it is impossible to see the 'hole' itself, since no light can escape it. But theoretically, scientists should be able to use an EHT to see a black hole's event horizon – the gravitational point of no return for anything being sucked inside."