In 2019, researchers made international headlines by releasing the world’s first photo of a black hole. Here’s a 1-minute video that zooms from the night sky into that black hole image to show how impressive the achievement was.
“The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) — a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration — was designed to capture images of a black hole,” writes the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which released the video. “This zoom video starts with a view of ALMA and zooms in on the heart of M87, showing successively more detailed observations and culminating in the first direct visual evidence of a supermassive black hole’s shadow.”
To capture the photo, scientists created an Earth-sized “computational telescope” that gathered data from 8 sites around the globe and used algorithms to extrapolate and fill in the missing pieces.
The black hole shadow seen in the first picture is about 40 microarcseconds wide. Shooting a picture of it is like trying to photograph a quarter in Los Angeles from Washington, DC or an orange on the moon from Earth.