On Wednesday, astronomers announced that they have at last captured an image of a black hole, a cosmic abyss that is so deep that not even light can escape it. The hole is 6.5 billion times the mass of our Sun and is devouring the insides of a galaxy about 55 million light years away

For years, images of blackholes has been conjured up by different artist’s interpretations and computer made algorithms. The closest to reality seemed to be a scene in Interstellar and Hollywood’s depiction wasn’t too far off.

“When we saw this come into focus, our jaws dropped,” astrophysicist Shep Doeleman said. He leads an international team of scientists that unveiled this circular silhouette against the glow of superheated matter swirling into its dark abyss.

This is a major milestone for cosmologists, reports CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassman.

It is nearly 25 billion miles across, almost the size of our solar system, in the center of a nearby galaxy called Messier 87, a giant galaxy in the constellation of virgo. The Sun is unleashing a violent jet of energy some 5,000 light-years into space.

“I think this image will be an important part of astronomy going forward for years to come,” Doeleman said, adding, “To know that these monsters exist, that is humbling.”

Astrologists believe a black hole is made when a large object such as a star collapses in on itself. Just like the movies, their pull swallows anything that strays too close.


To capture the image, astronomers had to synchronize eight radio telescopes on four continents and four imaging teams on supercomputers needed two years to crunch all the data.

“It’s amazing to me that we can … see a supermassive black hole in the heart of a galaxy 55 million light years away. You can’t make it up,” Doeleman said.

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