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M87 Central Galactic Black Hole Halo Photographed with Event Horizon Telescope


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Personal)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2020/09/30

As nationalism without inter-nationalism continues to mark down the discourse of the globe, some marked moments of science show the true beauty of inter-national collaboration through looking upward to the sky and outward from ourselves, especially in empirical evidence showing things previously only imagined. Recently, there was some news as to the nature of the most powerful gravitational wells in the universe: black holes. In a distant galaxy, at its center, there sits a gigantic black hole 40,000,000,000 kilometres across. It was photographed with a “network of eight telescopes across the world.” The details of the photography were published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The network of telescopes is called the Event Horizon Telescope or EHT. The original experiment was proposed by Professor Heino Falcke of Radbout University (Netherlands). The galaxy for this monstrous black hole is M87. Falcke said, “What we see is larger than the size of our entire Solar System… It has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the Sun. And it is one of the heaviest black holes that we think exists. It is an absolute monster, the heavyweight champion of black holes in the Universe.”

There is a “ring of fire” surrounding the circularity of the black hole. This halo surrounding the black hole is caused by gas becoming superheated and falling into M87’s black hole. The light from the bright halo surrounding the central galactic black hole of M87 is “brighter than all the billions of other stars in the galaxy combined.” This brightness permits ease of visibility to the EHT.

When the inner edge of the bright halo becomes dark, this is when the superheated gas enters the black hole. “Although they are relatively simple objects, black holes raise some of the most complex questions about the nature of space and time, and ultimately of our existence… It is remarkable that the image we observe is so similar to that which we obtain from our theoretical calculations. So far, it looks like Einstein is correct once again,” Dr. Ziri Younsi of University College London stated.

The reason for the darkness on the outer circular edge of the halo comes from the lack of light emitted for sufficient brightness to be picked up by the EHT. The inner edge becomes dark because the light from the superheated gas cannot escape the M87 black hole, or any black hole for that matter, because a “black hole is a region of space[-time] from which nothing, not even light, can escape.” The immense density of the matter compactified into the narrow region of space creates the basis for which the darkness because the black hole is present, though unseen because the photons emitted by the superheated gas become trapped in the gravitational well of M87’s central galactic black hole.

As stated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, “Learning about mysterious structures in the universe provides insight into physics and allows us to test observation methods and theories, such as Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Massive objects deform spacetime in their vicinity, and although the theory of general relativity has directly been proven accurate for smaller-mass objects, such as Earth and the Sun, the theory has not yet been directly proven for black holes and other regions containing dense matter.”


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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