We spoke to her last week about what would happen is an asteroid hit earth, this time round we’re talking about something more positive, the first image of a black hole, joining us on the line, Prof Carolina Odman – Associate Professor in the department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of the Western Cape and Associate Director : Development and Outreach for the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (also pronounced IDIA, like idea).
What is the significance of this discovery?
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. It was captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a network of eight linked telescopes.
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.”
University of Pretoria astrophysicist, Professor Roger Deane, was part of an international group of scientists who made history by unveiling the first ever image of a black hole.
Deane and his team from the university had the task of developing simulations from the “Earth-sized” telescope used to make the historic discovery.
These simulations mimic the data coming from the real instrument, which is made up of a number antennae across the globe, mimicking the imagery to help scientists get a better picture of what they are looking at.
According to the university, Deane started working with the team on the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), which captured the image revealed to the world on Wednesday.
Listen to the interview here: