There’s no longer any room for doubt: For the first time scientists have succeeded in capturing an image that proves the existence of black holes.
Until quite recently, black holes were considered deep dark mysteries, the phantoms of the universe. More than a century after their existence was first proposed, researchers have succeeded in taking a photo of one for the first time. But how do you focus a camera on an invisible object more than 50 million light-years away?
CAN LIGHT BE BENT?
Black holes seemed almost inconceivable to Albert Einstein, and he was skeptical that they existed. How could matter be so heavy and dense that it’s no longer constrained by the laws of physics? Black holes (formerly called “frozen stars”) are able to compress an incredibly large amount of matter into an infinitesimally small space, giving rise to a gravitational force so powerful that it can bend light rays and even ensnare light so it can’t escape. Other physicists used Einstein’s general theory of relativity to predict that if supermassive objects do in fact populate the universe, they’d be spherical and resemble a dark shadow embedded in a ring of light. This new photo—captured a century after Einstein published his relativity theory—is in keeping with that notion and shows that the phenomenon does actually exist.