It is an achievement to be celebrated.
It has almost a century since Einstein’s general theory of relativity being published. It predicted that the force of gravity arises from the curvature of space and time, a conception which many didn’t even dare to think of. Scientists have diligently tried to verify his thesis for many years. Because not all theoretical predictions turn out to be of any physical significance. When the scientists fumbled on to the concept of the black hole, there was some potential in it. Now coming back to your question, this image came out to prove the fact that gravity, space and time are intertwined. This is a rare feat for science.
Now you may say, “But I have already seen many black hole pictures on the internet. The clarity of the black hole in the interstellar movie was great, and comparing this picture it looks like a doughnut taken in a phone from the ’80s.” Now I see a logic in your question, you have already seen photos like these I suppose
Actually, all these images are created by artists. The movement of the celestial objects around the black hole and the effects of the gravity of the black hole on surrounding debris made the artists to draw a convincing image. And the graphically engineered black hole in the interstellar movie was near perfection.
But still is it such a big deal? Obviously, the science community is exuberant. But not all people celebrate science.
True, not all people celebrate science but I think if science is hard to get to you, then the numbers will probably help you get the gravity of the situation. This wasn’t just a normal click of something lying around you. This black hole is 250,614,750,218,665,392 kilometers away from Earth – that’s the equivalent of traveling from London to New York 45 trillion times. It is like trying to take a picture of an orange on the surface of the moon. And the black region in the picture corresponds almost to the diameter of the black hole. The real diameter of the black hole is nearly 120 million kilometers( million is 10 with 5 trailing zeroes). That is the magnanimity of this picture.
Moreover to take a picture which is at such a distance we need a telescope as big as Earth itself. But scientists managed to get 8 telescopes around the globe to work in unison. They were calibrated with the precision of an atomic clock( It loses one second per hundred million years). Now the next obstacle was to get a picture beyond the cosmic bodies and the cosmic dust in between. The final obstacle was to produce an image after analyzing nearly 5000 terabytes of data collected. Truly it is a feat to be celebrated!
This also means that we might finally be close to the fact of cracking the question “ What is gravity?”. First gravitational waves, now an image of the black hole, these things corroborates the fact itself.
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