University of MI alum helps discover first image of black hole


On 10 April, in a series of press conferences held simultaneously across the world, an worldwide team of scientists have proudly presented to the public the first-ever photo of a black hole, procured via the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project.

The first photo of a black hole was released to the public, giving validation to one of the most consequential theories in physics - Einstein's Theory of Relativity. "Even though we had worked on this for years, I don't think any of us expected we would get a ring that easily", she says.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 ― Kevin Koay Jun Yi from Penang has the distinction of being among the first team of global scientists to have captured the first image of a black hole ― an astronomical achievement that is making waves worldwide since its release yesterday.

Google Doodle artist Nate Swinehart was sketching scenes for a black hole animation while in his vehicle on the way to work, at the same time as EHT representatives prepared to announce their landmark achievement, a Google representative told Live Science in an email.

Today, around 130 such supermassive black holes at the centres of nearby galaxies have had their masses directly measured from the orbital velocities and distances of stars and gas circling the black holes, but not yet on a death spiral into the central gravitational compactor. The first to consider such an object was the English polymath John Michell in a 1784 essay.

Working independently 12 years later, the French scholar Pierre-Simon Laplace gave the idea a more thorough mathematical treatment. To get an image of the black hole, you'd need a large telescope. "That makes taking a picture of it extremely hard".

Michell's and Laplace's speculations were abandoned in the 19th century, following Thomas Young's 1801 discovery that light travels as a wave, leaving no known way for the force of gravity to interact with it. He conceived of gravity not as a force, as Newton did, but as a effect of the way massive objects curve space and time. Black holes are the universe's most powerful vacuum. The image of the black hole presented on Wednesday was not from any one method, but all the images from different algorithms that were blurred together.

The Milky Way's black hole was too challenging to image accurately this time round due to rapid variability in light output.

Bouman is a 2007 graduate of West Lafayette High School. "As long as you're excited and you're motivated to work on it, then you should never feel like you can't do it", she told TIME.

The output of this illicit mathematical operation is an extremely distorted pocket of space-time such that even light, the fastest thing there is, gets trapped.

'We have seen what we thought was unseeable, ' said EHT Director Sheperd Doeleman as he introduced the glowing orange ring that is the object at the center of Messier 87 (M87) - and our first direct look at a black hole.

In 1995, the existence of black holes was confirmed observationally by Makoto Miyoshi and colleagues.