First Image of a Black Hole

The black hole is outlined by emission from hot gas swirling around it
April 10, 2019
CreditEvent Horizon Telescope Collaboration
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This is the first picture of a black hole.

Using the Event Horizon Telescope, scientists obtained an image of the black hole at the center of the galaxy M87. (There is a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy — the Milky Way.)

Image of galaxy with jet of light emerging
The supermassive black hole imaged by the EHT is located in the center of the elliptical galaxy M87, located about 55 million light years from Earth. This image was captured by FORS2 on ESO's Very Large Telescope. The short linear feature near the center of the image is a jet produced by the black hole.

The black hole is outlined by emission from hot gas swirling around it under the influence of strong gravity near its event horizon.

What is a Black Hole?

A black hole is a dense, compact object whose gravitational pull is so strong that – within a certain distance of it – nothing can escape, not even light.

Black holes are thought to result from the collapse of very massive stars at the ends of their evolution. The gravity is so strong because matter (the mass) has been squeezed into a tiny space.

Illustration of black hole.
This artist's impression depicts a rapidly spinning supermassive black hole surrounded by an accretion disc. The black hole is labeled, showing the anatomy of this fascinating object.