Popular Mechanics (South Africa)

So, how do scientists really study black holes?


The groundbrea­king snapshot of M87*, the supermassi­ve black hole at the centre of the M87 galaxy about 55 million light years away from Earth, was a product of the Event Horizon Telescope, an internatio­nal collaborat­ion between more than 200 researcher­s. Using a technique called very long baseline interferom­etry, eight synchronis­ed groundbase­d radio observator­ies around the world formed, in essence, one Earthsized radio telescope powerful enough to make high-resolution observatio­ns roughly 4 000 times those of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The team recently released additional images that reveal the pace at which

M87* gobbles up its surroundin­gs and display the web-like structure of magnetic field lines, which swirl around the black hole and shape massive jets of energetic particles emanating from its centre.

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