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BREAKING NEWS EVENT: First images of a Black Hole Event Horizon announced

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A long-awaited development, thanks to an array of radio telescopes:

BBC reports:

Astronomers have taken the first ever image of a black hole, which is located in a distant galaxy.
It measures 40 billion km across – three million times the size of the Earth – and has been described by scientists as “a monster”.
The black hole is 500 million trillion km away and was photographed by a network of eight telescopes across the world.
Details have been published today in Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Prof Heino Falcke, of Radboud University in the Netherlands, who proposed the experiment, told BBC News that the black hole was found in a galaxy called M87.
“What we see is larger than the size of our entire Solar System,” he said.
“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.”

Image as released, showing the event horizon surrounded by bright gases being pulled in by the hole:

Let’s add a Chandra x-ray image (thus, again, strictly a false colour image) of jets from Centaurus A, another black hole at the heart of a galaxy believed to have collided with another, showing jets side-on:

Developing, further as time is available. END

F/N: Live feed (RT):

F/N2: A case of image distortion due to gravitational lensing, the Smiley Galactic cluster, HT Wiki — onward NASA:

27 Replies to “BREAKING NEWS EVENT: First images of a Black Hole Event Horizon announced

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    BREAKING NEWS EVENT: First images of a Black Hole Event Horizon announced

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    daveS says:

    OT: Hmm, Russia Today?

    This is very cool. It hasn’t been that many decades since the first photograph of a stellar disk (other than the sun) was taken.

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    kairosfocus says:

    DS, they had the feed and will likely keep it there, it’s a NASA etc event, not politics. I was in a hurry, too. KF

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    bornagain77 says:

    As to:

    “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.”

    Of related note:

    “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.”
    Dr. Richard Swenson – More Than Meets The Eye, Chpt. 11

    Quantum Mechanics, Special Relativity, General Relativity and Christianity – video

    The four dimensional spacetimes that undergird both special relativity and general relativity are comforting to overall Christian concerns in that they reveal two very different eternities to us. One eternity is found for a hypothetical observer who is going the speed of light, and the another eternity is found for a hypothetical observer falling to the event horizon of a black hole.

    Time dilation
    Excerpt: Time dilation: special vs. general theories of relativity:
    In Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity, time dilation in these two circumstances can be summarized:
    1. –In special relativity (or, hypothetically far from all gravitational mass), clocks that are moving with respect to an inertial system of observation are measured to be running slower. (i.e. For any observer accelerating, hypothetically, to the speed of light, time, as we understand it, will come to a complete stop.)
    2.–In general relativity, clocks at lower potentials in a gravitational field—such as in closer proximity to a planet—are found to be running slower. (i.e. For any observer falling to the event horizon of a black-hole, time, as we understand it, will come to a complete stop.)

    What makes the eternity of General Relativity profoundly different than the eternity found at Special Relativity, is that entropy, which is the primary reason why our material bodies grow old and eventually die in this universe,,,

    Entropy Explains Aging, Genetic Determinism Explains Longevity, and Undefined Terminology Explains Misunderstanding Both – 2007
    Excerpt: There is a huge body of knowledge supporting the belief that age changes are characterized by increasing entropy, which results in the random loss of molecular fidelity, and accumulates to slowly overwhelm maintenance systems [1–4].,,,

    ,,, is that entropy is found to be greatest at black holes. As the following article stated,, ‘supermassive black holes are the largest contributor to the observable universe’s entropy.’

    Entropy of the Universe – Hugh Ross – May 2010
    Excerpt: Egan and Lineweaver found that supermassive black holes are the largest contributor to the observable universe’s entropy. They showed that these supermassive black holes contribute about 30 times more entropy than what the previous research teams estimated.

    The Mystery of Time’s Arrow – April 2019
    Excerpt: ,,, Einstein’s wonderful theory of gravity—his general theory of relativity—does show that when black holes form they do have thermodynamic properties and possess a colossal entropy.,,,

    How Special Was The Big Bang?
    “But why was the big bang so precisely organized (to 1 in 10^10^123), whereas the big crunch (or the singularities in black holes) would be expected to be totally chaotic? It would appear that this question can be phrased in terms of the behaviour of the WEYL part of the space-time curvature at space-time singularities. What we appear to find is that there is a constraint WEYL = 0 (or something very like this) at initial space-time singularities-but not at final singularities-and this seems to be what confines the Creator’s choice to this very tiny region of phase space.”
    Roger Penrose – (from the Emperor’s New Mind, Penrose, pp 339-345 copyright 1989, Penguin Books)

    The destructive power of a black hole is illustrated rather dramatically in the following quote by Kip Thorne:

    “Einstein’s equation predicts that, as the astronaut reaches the singularity (of the black-hole), the tidal forces grow infinitely strong, and their chaotic oscillations become infinitely rapid. The astronaut dies and the atoms which his body is made become infinitely and chaotically distorted and mixed-and then, at the moment when everything becomes infinite (the tidal strengths, the oscillation frequencies, the distortions, and the mixing), spacetime ceases to exist.”
    Kip S. Thorne – “Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy” pg. 476
    Kip Thorne and Charles Misner, and John Wheeler wrote Gravitation (1973), considered a definitive textbook on general relativity.

    Thus the ‘eternity’ that is found at the event horizon of a black hole can rightly be called an ‘eternity of decay and destruction and even an eternity of death’.

    Needless to say, to those of us who are of a, shall we say, spiritually minded persuasion, this finding of a eternity of destruction should be fairly sobering.

    Matthew 23:33
    You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

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    daveS says:


    Do you know whether this is about what it would look like if you viewed it through an optical telescope from a safe distance?

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    Tom Robbins says:

    I am probably “preaching to the choir”, so forgive me in advance if I am.

    Not that i care all that much (at least yet) one way or another, as it has nothing to do with my worldview (in fact I think it is marvelous if this is reality), but I think it is important to note this is not at all what the headline says – I understand why the headline says what it says, but no theory, no matter how much evidence, is ever proven nor is it for certain a bedrock of “truth” for what we call reality, end of story, end of sane critical thinking. All that would have to change in the headline for it to be understood, is just a small change in the headline. i.e “Scientists believe….Black hole picture captured for first time in space a possible huge ‘breakthrough”.

    But we all know the world does not work like this, even though history insists that all theories of origins both of the universe and of life, especially far away observation (as in exoplanet research hype vs. reality), changes dramatically over time as our resolution both visual and informational, constantly changes. As our understanding and knowledge increases, so do our understanding of what it is we are really looking at. But so also, as a point of fact, we are more uncertain with every discovery of what is really “truth” or the reason, if any, that we are here.
    I feel strongly the publics and scientists “general” Zeitgeist of any particular time in the history of our own recollected and recorded history, say clearly that theories of consciousness, of origins of the universe, and of life itself, are subject to change at any time, very radically, as it has been this way since the methodology of science was formalized.

    As for “proof” of this general idea, it is very clear historically, that even within the span of a single lifetime, for instance within my 53 years, forget that reality we used to be almost certain is completly false.

    For only one simple example: To most “scientists” as far as a collective zeitgeist between most of them, as late as about 1960, was the sincere belief that the canals on mars were almost certainly formed by intelligent life, and that either life existed on mars at one time, all the way to the belief mars was almost certainly teaming with life – very credible scientists staked reputations on this single idea, but we collectively forget – it takes an active role and investigation of history to dipell some of the most absurd and illogical positions to take on reality especially a reality limited to what we call spacetime, matter, and energy.

    Bottom line for me, is the historical fact, that AS our RESOLUTION both literally and information/data-wise, increases, our conception of reality changes, often dramatically to anyone paying close attention (like this website’s blogger).

    I believe this is most notable in origin science (universe and life itself), which is by its very nature much different than experiments that lead to technology, cures etc. in the present tense… much, much different, as origin science can only be “true” at any given time, and constantly changes, with our forever changing “resolution” of our literal visual, and data/factual points of reference we all agree upon to a large extent….

    It may be viewed as trivial or subtle by some, but I believe it is the most important thing to keep in the front of your mind, if you don’t want to buy some swamp land in FL going for a steal….

    As someone a lot smarter than me proclaimed “all theories of origins have a shelf life…it is simply true, until suddenly its not, or it is much different than we expected, especially with the HUGE assumptions by materials scientists, that were not just wrong, but practically the opposite of reality.

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    buffalo says:

    So the image is created from data and not an actual observation?

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    Brother Brian says:

    KF, thank you for posting this. Very interesting stuff.

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    kairosfocus says:

    Buffalo & DS, this is a false colour image made through radio interferometry on an array of telescopes effectively spanning earth’s diameter — not sure whether the colours might be about right if adjusted for our eyesight. It is an image and captures something that is really there but it is not eyesight. I should add, it is the “right” shape and size per prediction of the theory, but . . . had the theory been wrong or some other circumstance obtained . . . could have been quite otherwise, notice also the video gives side-on images of jets, in this case the jets seem to be pointing our way more or less. The image is observational via instrumentation and linked image processing algorithms that are much slower than CCD displays or Ag Halide or rods and cones in our eyes; they used cloud computing, this is comparable to MRI, ultrasound, microwave wavelength radar, scanning-tunelling electron microscopy or CAT scan imaging. Optical interference is uncontroversial and in fact our own eyesight is imaged on electrochemistry across an array and uses the similar physics — though our eyes are refractive instruments. For instance, the image you see on the screen is an RGB composite created in a computer. It’s computer processing all the way down to what our eyes detect and process with our brains. Where, no, we do not have a “flat” colour response. We are back at appearance vs reality! KF

    PS: Have we all done pinhole camera imaging exercises? (I recall being amazed at seeing a little inverted colour image on a screen. Similarly, do a convex lens and screen exercise, which is just as amazing too. Mirrors of suitable curvature will also image as those who have reflector telescopes will report.

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    kairosfocus says:

    TR, you may find the just above useful. In the end our own visual field is just as much a processed image, so I wouldn’t sweat the appearance vs reality thing too much or that they use what used to be called false colour . . . colour coding . . . along with intensity to create an image field. I think, too, that this is not the first black hole imaged, just it is the first resolved event horizon and sure enough the matt black disk so long suggested is there. Spacetime has been gravitationally ripped and the scale, distance, shape, size etc are effectively as predicted. I think we may get better resolution onwards but I suspect this is not materially false. KF

    PS: Hearing is processed on an array too.

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    buffalo says:

    Since it is so so far away, how certain are they there is not something in between that is blocking or distorting?

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    kairosfocus says:

    Buffalo, we would have seen the distortions. Radio waves are also less vulnerable to some distortions that plague visible light. KF

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    buffalo says:

    Hard to believe since “The black hole is 500 million trillion km away and was photographed by a network of eight telescopes across the world.”

    How long did it take these radio waves to arrive? What about radio wave cancellation?

    There is no noise in the radio signals?

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    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I added a case of gravitational lensing distortion. KF

    PS: The image information was collected on a cross-planet scale and was likely constructed in a way similar to medical image scanning, involving interferometry — cross-planet baseline path length differences allowing for interference patterns and reconstruction of sources; M87 being what 55 MLyr away. Of course noise and artefacts were present, the algorithms and the volume of information collected and processed allowed for sophisticated corrective measures.

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    buffalo says:

    Over this vast distance even the separation of the collectors is miniscule.
    I remain skeptical.

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    kairosfocus says:

    Buffalo, we measure time now to femtoseconds, so we can get extreme precision on phases of radio waves, allowing high resolution. That’s how we can image something like this. KF

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    Marfin says:

    How do they know its a black hole? , is it just by its shape and colour. They have stated a lot of properties of said black hole but does this image determine properties , I saw a TV ad for Skoda cars which showed a car the image looked like a car so should have had the properties of a car but alas it was made out of cake and had the properties of cake.

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    kairosfocus says:

    Marfin, atoms have spectra and the sorts of atomic transitions that become possible will depend on the energy conditions. Per q-mech those are calculable. A black hole’s neighbourhood is an extreme condition and so one can look across the spectrum, including x-rays. They knew where to look, and were imaging what was there. Further, per the relativity, the behaviour of black holes tied to their mass etc, can also be predicted and simulated.This also relates to black holes in the process of gobbling up their neighbourhood, with emission jets etc; this one is a pac-man in the act. The imaging was done in part to cross-check the simulations and calculations. It came up trumps. KF

    PS: Let me add to the OP, shortly, on black hole jets and disks.

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    Tom Robbins says:

    Thanks Kairosfocus!


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    Marfin says:

    So they are 100% sure it is exactly what they say it is, and 100% has the properties they say it has, now these guys are way, way smarter than me but it would not be the first time a little hyperbole and exaggerating was used to increase funding and justify ones position.
    Not a skeptic by the way would just like a little harder evidence over a little longer times span to be fully convinced.
    Otherwise we would have to believe that universes make themselves out of nothing , etc,etc.

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    kairosfocus says:

    Marfin, science is an objective, not generally an absolute process. One does not need to know perfectly and beyond all possibility of error in order to know objectively and reliably. KF

    PS: That the observed cosmos credibly had a beginning implies it is contingent and caused. A genuine nothing, i.e. non-being, has no capability to cause so had there ever been utter nothing such would forever obtain. That a world now is implies and requires that there is a root of the observed world that is in key part necessary of being. Which implies, eternal. The onward issue is of what character, especially in a world with morally governed creatures. But the physics of imaging is not that, and the physics of distance measurement in the cosmos is not like that, and the physics that predicted and characterised black holes is not like that, though it is connected to the idea of a world that began at a singularity some 14 BYA. Beyond this, we know not from science.

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    Andre says:

    Hate to be a party pooper but Einstein debunked this Science fiction in 1939 already.

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    asauber says:

    I’m a little skeptical myself.

    I saw a local news story where this scientist and a reporter were hyperventilating about it. I thought that was a little contrived.

    I saw a dark spot with a bright ring around it. (shoulder shrug)

    I also had a little issue with them calling it a ‘photo’.

    These kind of things are why I don’t normally watch news.


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    kairosfocus says:

    AS, photograph is indeed misleading. Image is correct. That said, the image is a representation on in effect a pixels basis, of radio wavelength information not visible light; in false colour (which may be so coded it would look like this, I do not know). The interpretation takes in a wide context and is best explained on an accretion disk and event horizon, with jet facing us. The angular scale and geometric form fit the predictions. KF

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