Situated at the centre of most galaxies, including ours, they are so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape their gravitational pull.
The Malaysian scientist who was a postdoctoral researcher at the Dark Cosmology Centre of the Niels Bohr Institute in the University of Copenhagen between 2013 and 2016 believes that the discovery of the black hole image is just the first step into a new era of astrophysics, reported Malay Mail. In the image - which appears amid the Google Doodle - the M87 black hole's shadow is framed against a surrounding cloud of superheated dust and gas. Well, they can't say that anymore!
In order to understand this, one needs to recall that, even though the M87 black hole is a monster (about 40 million kilometers across), it lies at 55 million light-years (520 billion billion kilometers).
The team takes measurements to collect data with satellite dishes. And that means it converts nearby gas and matter into energy with 100 times more efficiency than the nuclear fusion that powers the stars.
"It feels like really looking at the gates of hell, at the end of space of time - the event horizon, the point of no return", Carlos Moedas, the European Union's commissioner of research, science and innovation, said at a press conference in Belgium. The new image, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters and announced around the world in several news conferences, adds light to that sound. But lots did come out of Wednesday's first image of the shadowy edge of a supermassive black hole. Light gets bent and twisted around by gravity in a freakish funhouse effect as it gets sucked into the abyss along with superheated gas and dust, the AP reported.
"You can see that one side of that ring is brighter than the other, and that's the side that's coming towards us as the whole thing spins", explained University of Queensland astrophysicist Professor Tamara Davis. Combining the big data from the different radio telescopes required special supercomputers.
Israeli spacecraft crashes in final moments before moon landing
SpaceIL chairman Morris Kahn said: "We got within a short distance of that soft landing but this is what happens in space". The project cost a measly $100 million. "It has national implications for Israel and implications for humanity".
"The size and shape of the shadow matches the precise predictions of Einstein's general theory of relativity, increasing our confidence in this century-old theory", Psaltis said. "We're not promising anything" on images of Sagittarius A*, Doeleman said.
Although the blazing, spinning disc of material passes behind the black hole, from our perspective, the light actually curves right around the black hole - so that telescopes on Earth can still catch it. "This is the strongest evidence that we have to date for the existence of black holes".
A scene from "Interstellar" was thought to be the most realistic movie depiction ever of a black hole.
"I was part of the observing team at the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, on April 2017 when these observations were carried out". The one in our galaxy is closer but much smaller, so they both look the same size in the sky.
And last, but not least, we could not miss out on the fact that the black hole looks very similar to the Eye of Sauron from "Lord of the Rings". "Once you cross it, you will never be able to get out and you will never be able to communicate", Loeb said. "That is awe inspiring to me at least, but it is also important for physics".