Ontario scientist among global team unveiling first image of a black hole

At the Event Horizon Astrophysicists Set to Reveal First

"We have seen what we thought was unseeable".

"The millimetric range - measured in thousandths of a meter - turns out to be the best wavelength to investigate black holes because the waves pass through the dust clouds that enshroud them".

University of Waterloo physicist Avery Broderick, a co-discoverer, declared: "Science fiction has become science fact". "Numerous features of the observed image match our theoretical understanding surprisingly well", Paul T.P. Ho, EHT Board member and Director of the East Asian Observatory, said in the press release.

The concept of black holes has captivated scientists for two centuries. Black holes pull in anything nearby with unfathomable force and gravity, even pulling in light.

It is this point-of-no-return precipice, called the Event Horizon, that astronomers have tried to observe for the first time.

According to Sky and Telescope magazine "black holes are among the weirdest things in astronomy", and their existence was first predicted by Albert Einstein in his theory of general relativity. A light year, which measures distance in space, equals 6 trillion miles. The black hole in question is about seven billion times more massive than our sun, and was described by the Times as "a smoke ring framing a one-way portal to eternity".

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The photo shows the black hole's silhouette, surrounded by a bright ring.

The news, said to be "ground-breaking", will be announced at six simultaneous press conferences around the world. "This is an extraordinary scientific feat accomplished by a team of more than 200 researchers".

What are we actually going to see?

There are many black holes in the universe and there is no accurate number of the size of each. "That mystique is going to be made more real".

Though both exciting and surprising, the photograph closely matched the theoretical predictions of black hole experts and the computer models they've designed.

As Lai explained, it's hard to see black hole shadows clearly because any images are blurred by interstellar gas, which presents a complicated challenge for the EHT team. "Once you cross it, you will never be able to get out and you will never be able to communicate", said astronomer Avi Loeb, who is director of the Black Hole Initiative at Harvard but was not involved in the discovery. Some were created by artists, and others were based on data gathered from telescopes.

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