Monday 19 August 2019

'They're essentially science fiction backed up be evidence' - astrophysics expert responds to 'jaw-dropping' black hole photo

The first ever image of a black hole (Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration)
The first ever image of a black hole (Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration)
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

A Dublin-based astrophysics researcher, whose “jaw literally dropped” at the first photograph of a black hole, believes the discovery is an amazing leap forward for humanity.

For DCU professor Dr John Regan, seeing a real-life image of the universe’s most mysteries entity is one of the top highlights of his career. 

“I never actually believed this would be possible in my lifetime," he told Independent.ie.

“The actual clarity of the image and how close it is to our predictions is absolutely incredible. My jaw literally dropped when I saw it. 

“Along with the remarkable discoveries made with pulsars and gravitational waves in recent years I believe we have reached the golden age for verifying general relativity,” he said. 

The breakthrough image was captured by the Event Horizon telescope (EHT), a network of eight radio telescopes spanning locations from Antarctica to Spain and Chile, in an effort involving more than 200 scientists.

Black holes, phenomenally dense celestial entities, are extraordinarily difficult to observe despite their great mass. 

A black hole’s event horizon is the point of no return beyond which anything - stars, planets, gas, dust and all forms of electromagnetic radiation - gets swallowed into oblivion.

Dr Regan, who is a researcher at the centre for Astrophysics & Relativity at DCU, believes the photograph will prompt a new wave of interest in astronomy.

“Everyone has heard of black holes and people tend to get really excited about them due to their great mystery. They’re essentially science-fiction, backed up by real evidence. 

 “This photograph is a real mechanism to promote science, physics and mathematics. I’m sure that a lot of young people will be inspired by this discovery, who will hopefully develop a love of astrophysics.”

Researchers at the Centre for Astrophysics & Relativity in DCU work at the forefront of research into understanding the implications of General Relativity and the formation of supermassive black holes, recently making a major breakthrough in understanding the origin of these monsters

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