Apr 10, 2019

Astronomers Capture First Image of a Black Hole

—Japanese researchers contribute to paradigm-shifting observations of the gargantuan black hole at the heart of distant galaxy Messier 87—

Overview of the press release

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) — a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration — was designed to capture images of a black hole. Today, in coordinated press conferences across the globe, EHT researchers reveal that they have succeeded, unveiling the first direct visual evidence of a supermassive black hole and its shadow.

This breakthrough was announced today in a series of six papers published in a special issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters. The image reveals the black hole at the center of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster. This black hole resides 55 million light-years from Earth and has a mass 6.5-billion times that of the Sun.

The EHT links telescopes around the globe to form an Earth-sized virtual telescope with unprecedented sensitivity and resolution. The EHT is the result of years of international collaboration, and offers scientists a new way to study the most extreme objects in the Universe predicted by Einstein’s general relativity during the centennial year of the historic experiment that first confirmed the theory.


Figure 1. The first image of the shadow of the black hole in the center of M87 taken with EHT. The size of the ring is only about 40 microarcseconds across — equivalent to measuring the diameter of a baseball on the surface of the moon from the Earth. Credit: EHT Collaboration

Figure 2. Locations of the telescopes making up the EHT in the 2017 observing campaign. Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF


To read the full press release, please visit the ALMA (NAOJ) website.


Professor Mareki Honma(The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan) and Hiroki Okino (2nd year Master's student, Department of Astronomy, Graduate School of Science) participated in this research.

― Office of Communication ―