Evolution of imaging a Black Hole!

The world’s very first simulation of a black hole 40 years earlier by Jean-Pierre Luminet, a young researcher at the CNRS at that time, published in 1979 in Astronomy and Astrophysics. It is not an artist’s view but an image based on the supposed physical properties of a black hole and its gas disc, such as its rotation rate and temperature, and on Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

A simulated image of an accreting black hole was released in 2019 by Event Horizon telescope (EHT). The event horizon is in the middle of the image, and the shadow can be seen with a rotating accretion disk surrounding it. Credit: Bronzwaer/Davelaar/Moscibrodzka/Falcke/Radboud University.

The first real image of a black hole, obtained by the international network of EHT telescopes and published on April 10, 2019 in Astrophysical Journal Letters. This is a dark region surrounding a black hole that is expected to be about three times the diameter of the black hole’s event horizon, which is the point beyond which even light cannot escape a black hole. The supermassive black hole is called M87 and is located at the centre of a galaxy about 55 million light-years away. From the image, the team worked out that M87 has a mass of about 6.5 billion times that of the Sun.

Magnetic swirl: in 2021 a view of the M87 supermassive black hole in polarized light. The lines mark the orientation of the polarization, which is related to the magnetic field around the shadow of the black hole. (Courtesy: EHT Collaboration)