How To Capture A Black Hole

Posted by on January 19, 2012
Last Updated: April 1, 2016

How do you take a picture of a black hole?

You construct a telescope as wide as Planet Earth.

50 radio telescopes around the world will be working together to construct a massive “virtual telescope,” which should allow scientists a clear view of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

“We expect to see the swirling of matter going into the black hole in real time,” said astrophysicist Dimitrios Psaltis in an interview with MSNBC.

The telescopes will collectively be called the Event Horizon Telescope, in reference to the horizon at the edge of every black hole, from which nothing can escape.

By the way, you may be wondering how you can “see” a black hole.

Well, in reality, you can’t.

Even light can’t escape a black hole, so its true appearance is, well, no appearance at all. There’s nothing there you can directly see. But you can see its “shadow,” which is what the Event Horizon Telescope will be looking for.

“Shadow,” in this case, refers to the effects of the black hole on surrounding matter and light — as Psaltis said, in the presence of a black hole, you should be able to see the “swirling of matter” getting sucked into it. So, we can “see” the black hole by looking at how it warps space-time.

Psaltis is predicting that we’ll have a “complete picture of the black hole” in about three years.

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About the Author Post by Rob Schwarz Rob Schwarz is a writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. He manages Stranger Dimensions in between changing aquarium filters and reading bad novels about mermaids.