Look into the night sky and one thing you won’t see is a black hole, an area in space with such a strong gravitational pull that it sucks in dying stars and other objects and doesn’t allow light out, which is why there are no images of black holes.
But astronomers hope to show the first photos of a black hole this Wednesday at 9 a.m. local time.
The images will be from the Event Horizon Telescope, a network of eight radio telescope observatories located around the world.
Those observatories teamed up in April 2017 to try to observe the so-called event horizon in a black hole, the boundary beyond which gravity is so strong that even light cannot get out. The event horizon is one of the most violent places in the universe, sucking in planets, dying stars, gas and dust.
The scientists targeted two massive black holes, the Sagittarius A* at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy, and the M87, which is located at the center of the neighboring Virgo A galaxy.
In April 2018, astronomers poring over old X-ray observations said they found signs of a dozen black holes in the inner circle of the Milky Way.
According to NASA, the gravity in black holes is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space. This can happen when a star is dying.
Because no light can get out, people cannot see black holes. They are invisible. Space telescopes such as the Event Horizon Telescope array have special tools can help find black holes. The special tools can also see how stars that are very close to black holes act differently than other stars.
Science News said the astronomers hope the images will tell them what a black hole looks like. The scientists also want to know whether Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity works in a black hole and whether collapsed stars known as pulsars surround the Milky Way’s black hole. They also might learn how some black holes launch bright jets of subatomic particles.
Scientists in six countries, including in the United States in Washington, D.C., will hold simultaneous press conferences on Wednesday to reveal images from Event Horizon.
The other press events will be in Brussels, Santiago, Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo.