BEIJING, Apr. 10, China New Zealand. com Client (BEIJING) - The Event Horizon Telescope project, co-operated by multinational scientific researchers around the world, will today release a groundbreaking achievement, which is widely believed to be the first black hole photograph ever acquired by human beings.
As early as 1915, Einstein published his general theory of relativity, which first predicted the existence of black holes. Today, more than 100 years later, human beings are expected to witness the real face of black holes for the first time.
An artists imagination of a black hole. (Image Source: Shanghai Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences)Shanghai Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences
The first photograph of a black hole in human history is available today.
According to the EHT project website, news conferences will be held in Washington, China, Shanghai and Taipei, Santiago, Chile, Brussels, Denmark and Tokyo at 9:00 EST (Beijing time, 10:21 EST) on October 10 to publish the event horizon in English, Chinese, Spanish, Danish and Japanese. The first major achievement of telescope.
It is widely believed that this will be the first black hole photograph ever taken by human beings.
It is reported that some important guests will attend the conference held by the National Association of Journalists in Washington on the 10th, including the project director of the Event Vision Telescope, senior astronomer Shepherd Duleman of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and the president of the National Science Foundation of the United States, who is an important sponsor of the project.
The historic announcement of black holes was written on the front page of the National Science Foundations official website.
In Shanghai, the EHT project and the Chinese Academy of Sciences will jointly publish this important achievement.
DATA FIGURE: Astronomers have captured the process of black holes devouring stars, which is considered to be the most mysterious and shocking scenario in the universe.
What is a black hole?
In theory, black holes are a kind of celestial bodies predicted by Einsteins general relativity. Its super gravity makes it impossible for light to escape its sphere of influence, which is called the radius of a black hole or event horizon.
The term black hole was coined in 1968 by American astronomer Wheeler in a report.
But the concept of black holes has long been deduced by scientists through mathematical formulas.
For example, in 1796, the French scientist Laplace wrote a passage in his book: If a star had the same density as the Earth and a diameter 250 times larger than the sun, its surface would escape faster than the speed of light. The star should have been luminous, but from a distance, its absolutely dark, you cant see it.
As for black holes, the French astronomer Luminaire also said, A black hole is a kind of debris after the death of a star. It is the pole of gravitational contraction, which is almost absurd (referring to some of its properties that cannot be explained by existing physical knowledge). But it is also the most beautiful object in the universe. Understanding black holes and being deeply confused will lead us to a new and deeper horizon showing the profound nature of time, space, light and matter.
In the universe, according to mass astronomers, black holes in the universe are divided into three categories: Star-mass black holes (tens to hundreds of times the mass of the sun), supermassive black holes (millions of times the mass of the sun) and medium-mass black holes (between them).
Dense celestial bodies are classified by mass. (Image Source: NASA) NASA Photographs
Do black holes really exist?
Human beings cant see black holes at all. How do we know that black holes exist?
Since the black hole itself does not emit light and swallows light, it is difficult to detect it directly. Scientists can only use some indirect methods to detect black holes, such as observing accretion disks and jets.
In 1978, Luminaire gave the first image of the event horizon of a black hole. But its not a real picture. Its a computer simulation of the black hole scene using his mathematical knowledge and related technology, as well as an IBM 7040 punched card computer in the 1960s.
Using data generated by computer simulations, Luminaire uses pens and Indian ink to depict black holes on a negative. The whole process is like a human printer. This blurred image shows a flat disk of matter falling into a black hole when the observer is close enough.
Before the launch of EHT project, astronomers demonstrated the existence of black holes through various indirect evidences. There are three kinds of representative evidences: one is that the motion of stars and gases reveals the traces of black holes. Black holes have a strong gravitational pull, which can affect the surrounding stars and gases. Scientists can confirm the existence of black holes by observing this effect. Second, they can judge the existence of black holes by the light emitted by the black holes accretion material (equivalent to eating); and third, they can see black holes by seeing the growth process of black holes.
In addition, there are many similar evidences, all of which indicate the existence of black holes.
DATA FIGURE: The worlds largest single-aperture radio telescope, the 500-meter spherical radio telescope (FAST). He Junyi, a reporter from China News Agency
It took about two years for the photo to develop
More than 40 years after Luminaire painted the first image of the event horizon of a black hole, humans will witness the true face of a black hole for the first time.
In April 2017, the EHT project was launched.
EHT constructs a virtual telescope, event horizon telescope, with the same aperture as the Earths diameter, through the collaboration of VLBI and several radio observatories around the world.
Earlier, the project announced that the virtual telescope would focus on two black holes, one in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, Sagittarius A*, and the other in the center of a supergiant elliptical galaxy code M87.
According to media reports, EHTs eight eyes are located in the United States, Mexico, Chile, France, Greenland and Antarctica. These eight radio telescopes have single telescopes and telescope arrays. They cast a large net at the selected target, retrieve huge amounts of data and outline the shape of the black hole.
In addition, the EHT project is a major international cooperation plan reached by more than 200 researchers worldwide. It is worth mentioning that some domestic institutions, including the Shanghai Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, also participated in the international cooperation.
It is reported that the development of black hole photographs took about two years.
What does the black hole look like behind the veil of mystery? Everyone is looking forward to the moment when the answer is revealed.
Source: Responsible Editor of CNN: Li Tianyi_NN7528