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What is a black hole?

What is a black hole?

While members of the EHT team have not revealed their findings, with a media advisory from the US National Science Foundation (NSF) describing it as "groundbreaking", speculations are rife that the project has achieved in its main goal of getting an image of the black hole.

Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) trained its sights on both M87's black hole and Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, the spiral galaxy that contains our solar system.

The first photograph of a black hole and its fiery halo, released Wednesday by Event Horizon Telescope astronomers, is the "most direct proof of their existence", one of the project's lead scientists told AFP.

To bring the picture into focus, the Event Horizon Telescope's teammates had to combine their observations using a technique known as very long baseline interferometry, or VLBI.

They created the image of a black hole by compiling data from eight earth-based telescopes positioned around the world.

General relativity predicts that the gravitational field of a black hole bends light into a lopsided ring.

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The news, said to be "ground-breaking", will be announced at six simultaneous press conferences around the world. While a lot has been written and said about black holes, so far no one has actually seen them.

For the black holes it is the nature of the event horizon, and for neutron stars the related quantity is the radius of the neutron stars. The image also suggests that something - either the matter around it or the black hole itself - was rotating clockwise, astrophysicist Monika Moscibrodzka from Radboud University Nijmegen said. It needs to be this big because although Sagittarius A is massive, about 4 million times as massive as our sun.

The astronomers added the red and gold colors to the image so it would be easier to see.

The project may help scientists struggling to marry together two apparently incompatible pillars of physics: Einstein's theory of general relativity and quantum mechanics.

Black hole has always been a subject of human curiosity. The gravitational pull is so strong that even light can not escape.

Now there may be another exciting development to look forward to: the first ever photos of a black hole. The scientists will be looking for a ring of light - radiation and matter circling at tremendous speed at the edge of the event horizon - around a region of darkness representing the actual black hole. This could be a whole new era of understanding black holes.