The Event Horizon Telescope has Revealed the Magnetic Field Lines Around M87's Central Black Hole

In 2019 astronomers captured the first direct image of a black hole. It was an image of the supermassive black hole at the heart of M87. And when many folks saw it, their reaction was “that’s it?” Which is understandable, given that the image is just a blurry, donut-shaped smudge. It isn’t much to look at. But an astronomical image is a small fraction of the data gathered by astronomers. Recently more of that data has been analyzed, including both the polarization of the light and the magnetic field surrounding the black hole.

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Einstein. Right again

Most of what we know about black holes is based upon indirect evidence. General relativity predicts the structure of a black hole and how matter moves around it, and computer simulations based on relativity are compared with what we observe, from the accretion disks that swirl around a black hole to the immense jets of material they cast off at relativistic speeds. Then in 2019, radio astronomers captured the first direct image of the supermassive black hole in M87. This allows us to test the limits of relativity in a new and exciting way.

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The Shadow from M87’s Supermassive Black Hole has Been Observed Wobbling Around the Galaxy for Years

In April 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) released the first direct image of a black hole. It was a radio image of the supermassive black hole in the galaxy M87. Much of the image resulted from radio light gravitationally focused toward us, but there was also some light emitted by gas and dust near the black hole. By itself, the image is a somewhat unimpressive blurry ring, but the data behind the image tells a more detailed story.

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