First-ever black hole image revealed

By James Rogers | Fox News

Scientists release the first picture of a black hole ever captured

Scientists have obtained the first image of a black hole, using Event Horizon Telescope observations of the center of the galaxy M87.

Scientists have released the first-ever image of a black hole, revealing the distant object in stunning detail.

The groundbreaking discovery was made by the Event Horizon Telescope, an international project involving telescopes across the globe that describes itself as a “virtual Earth-sized telescope.” Telescopes in Hawaii, Arizona, Chile, Mexico, Spain and the South Pole participated in the ambitious research project.

The black hole was spotted in galaxy Messier 87 (M87) that is 55 million light years away. A light year, which measures distance in space, equals 6 trillion miles.

“We’re delighted to report to you today that we have seen what we thought was unseeable,” explained Dr. Shep Doeleman, director of the Event Horizon Telescope, during a press conference at the National Science Foundation Wednesday. “We have taken advantage of a cosmic opportunity.”View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

National Science Foundation@NSF

You’re looking at the first ever image of a black hole. It was captured by the #NSFFunded @ehtelescope project. #ehtblackhole #RealBlackHole https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/blackholes/formedia.jsp …69.6K8:07 AM – Apr 10, 201937.9K people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy

“This was a Herculean task,” explained National Science Foundation Director Dr. France Cordova, during the press conference,  noting that the Event Horizon Telescope’s findings transform and enhance our understanding of black holes. The National Science Foundation has invested $28 million in Event Horizon Telescope project.

The black hole has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the Sun, according to the researchers, who captured the image of a ring-like structure with a dark central region, which is the black hole’s “shadow.”

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“”If immersed in a bright region, like a disc of glowing gas, we expect a black hole to create a dark region similar to a shadow — something predicted by Einstein’s general relativity that we’ve never seen before,” explained Heino Falcke of Holland’s Radboud University and chair of the EHT Science Council, in a statement. “This shadow, caused by the gravitational bending and capture of light by the event horizon, reveals a lot about the nature of these fascinating objects and allowed us to measure the enormous mass of M87’s black hole.”

The shadow of a black hole is the closest we can come to an image of the black hole itself, according to the EHT scientists. “The black hole’s boundary — the event horizon from which the EHT takes its name — is around 2.5 times smaller than the shadow it casts and measures just under 40 billion km [24.8 billion miles] across.,” the explain, in the statement.

NASA said that the black hole had been observed by several of its own missions.View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

NASA@NASA

In a historic feat by @EHTelescope & @NSF, a black hole image has been captured for the 1st time. Several of our missions observed the same black hole using different light wavelengths and collected data to understand the black hole’s environment. Details: https://go.nasa.gov/2Uwj1PF 27.2K8:45 AM – Apr 10, 201916.8K people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacy

“Black holes are extremely dense pockets of matter, objects of such incredible mass and miniscule volume that they drastically warp the fabric of space-time,” explains the National Science Foundation, on its website. “Anything that passes too close, from a wandering star to a photon of light, gets captured. Most black holes are the condensed remnants of a massive star, the collapsed core that remains following an explosive supernova.”

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch might mean moon missions for Elon Musk

By Tim Fernholz4 hours ago

The SpaceX rocket expected to vault a Saudi communications satellite into orbit on April 10 is also auditioning to explore space with NASA.

The Falcon Heavy rocket is the most powerful operational rocket in the world, designed to fly the largest satellites into the highest orbits over the earth. The communications satellite being flown in this launch, Arabsat-6A, weighs about six metric tons (6.6 tons).

Though this is just the second flight of the rocket, a smooth mission could bring Elon Musk closer to his dreams of taking humanity out into the solar system. NASA has set a new goal of landing humans on the moon in 2024 that may require SpaceX’s help to achieve.

The vehicle is effectively three of SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 boosters lashed together. It debuted with a Feb. 2018 flight that sent a Tesla roadster into orbit around the sun.

SpaceX warned residents of the Florida coast that there are likely to be three large sonic booms when the three boosters return to earth after delivering the satellite.

Arabsat-6A will be launched to an orbit roughly 36,000 km (22,369 miles) above the earth, where it will remain over Africa, the Middle East and Europe as it circles the earth.

You can watch the launch and attempt to return the boosters at 6:36 pm EDT on SpaceX’s live stream:

Human motivations

SpaceX is still showing NASA that its rockets are safe enough to fly astronauts to the International Space Station. A successful test run of that mission in March showed that the company’s Dragon spacecraft was capable of successfully flying to the ISS, docking with the orbital habitat, and then returning to earth to splashdown in the ocean. That means the company could actually launch a crewed flight later this year, pending a few other loose ends.

One requirement is that the company fly seven times using an approved system of pressurized gas canisters in its rockets. Those canisters, known as composite overwrap pressure vessels or COPVs, were linked to a 2016 fire that destroyed a SpaceX rocket and satellite.

SpaceX and NASA re-configured the system and have now flown it six times in the upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket and twice in the reusable booster stage. This Falcon Heavy flight will feature the new COPVS in both stages of center booster, which could give NASA the data it needs to finally certify the design for human spaceflight.

Moon improvisation

The Falcon Heavy earned global plaudits when it launched, but got a distinctly cool reception from the US space establishment, which has spent $17 billion on a Boeing-built heavy rocket called the Space Launch System (SLS) that faces lengthy delays.

However, in March, NASA administrator James Bridenstine raised the possibility of keeping a planned lunar test of an uncrewed deep-space vehicle on schedule for 2020 by launching it on a commercially-available rocket like the Falcon Heavy instead of waiting for SLS.

SpaceX’s rocket only has about 60% of the lifting power of the SLS, but it costs about one-tenth per launch thanks in part to its reusable boosters, and it is flying today. Using it for the moon mission would come with its own technical hurdles, like figuring out how to mate the spacecraft, called Orion, with the Falcon Heavy, and then to re-fuel it in orbit.

It might be feasible, but only if the Falcon Heavy continues to demonstrate its capabilities with this launch and four others scheduled in the coming years.

Musk, who says he wants to retire on Mars, has already launched the first private moon mission on a Falcon 9 rocket, an Israeli probe expected to touch down on the lunar surface on April 11. His company has also sold a flight around the moon to Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa on the as-yet-unbuilt Starship space vehicle.