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Best Moments of 2019 Spotlight: We Got the FIRST-EVER Pic of a Black Hole

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  • Tip Bones

"Dude. That's a black hole!" In April 2019, we got to see where all of our stray socks and hair ties vanish into, finally.

Since the discovery of the black hole in 1916, astronomers have been trying to crack exactly what a black hole is and what the heck it looks like. On April 10, 2019, astronomers captured the first-ever image of a black hole in the behemoth, elliptical galaxy M87 which encompasses our own Milky Way and about 2,000 other galaxies.

This first photo is similar to the “shot heard round the world” that kicked off the American Revolutionary War, says Harvard University astrophysicist Avi Loeb, not part of the EHT team.

M87 is way different than our Milky Way and has a bunch more gravitational oomph. The swirling gases shift more slowly and vary in brilliance. So, astronomers figured it would make a perfect artist’s model for astrophysicists to “pose.” Among many unique features discovered, we know now M87 shoots out a jet of charged particles thousands of light-years into space. Is that how all black holes behave?

In 2020, more observatories will be available to extend the image and gain better photos of these jets spewing from M87. Joining EHT next year will be the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona and the Northern Extended Millimeter (NOEMA) in the French Alps. Scientists will also use a higher frequency to sharpen the images.

Here’s to seeing the light in a sharper perspective, hopefully more accurately than our attempts at New Year’s resolutions. Maybe astronomers will helps us find our lost socks and hair ties by 2050.

Spoiler alert: They’re what holds the universe together.