Of all the things we’ve seen in outer space, black holes are probably the oddest. Actually, let us rephrase that: We’ve technically never seen a black hole, because nobody’s ever been able to get a photo of one. However, it looks like scientists are on their way to filling that photographic gap (via Gizmodo).
There’s something called The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), which isn’t actually a single telescope, but a network of ten ultra-powerful ones that are scattered around the planet. They’re all pointed at the direct center of our galaxy, where scientists believe a ginormous black hole exists. Named Sagittarius A*, it’s supposedly about four million times the mass of the Sun and is believed to power the orbit of the Milky Way’s rotation.
The EHT has been around since 2006, but it recently added the power of the ALMA, or the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, in the Chilean desert. It’s the world’s most powerful radio telescope, by the way. Along with a telescope in the South Pole, the EHT has become humanity’s best-ever chance at photographing a black hole, and scientists are pretty amped about it.
“This is going to be a seminal observation in the history of mankind,” Grant Tremblay, an observational astrophysicist from Yale University, told Gizmodo. “This image [of Sagittarius A*] , whatever it shows, will be in the top ten images ever taken.”
The EHT will begin its observations of Sagittarius A* in April, so we’re potentially on the verge of learning a lot about the universe we live in. For instance, a real photo of a black hole would allow us to either confirm or debunk the part of Einstein’s theory of relativity that says black holes ought to look like dark shadows. Gizmodo has a more detailed look at how the EHT functions and what scientists are hoping to see come April, so check that out here.
Are you ready for the “hole” truth? What do you picture it looking like? Gravitate down to comments and let us know.
Featured image: Flickr/European Southern Observatory