“It has been theoretically, mathematically proven that they exist,” Massimino told Fox News’ Bill Hemmer during an interview Thursday. Now, however, a global team of researchers has finally captured an image of a black hole, revealing the distant object in stunning detail. The image was revealed amid much fanfare Wednesday.
Assembled from data gathered by eight radio telescopes around the world, the image shows light and gas swirling around the lip of a supermassive black hole, a monster of the universe whose existence was theorized by Albert Einstein more than a century ago but confirmed only indirectly over the decades.
“It’s great to see how science can make that prediction,” Massimino said. “Einstein came up with most of these predictions 100 years ago.”
The black hole was spotted in galaxy Messier 87 (M87) that is 55 million light-years away. A light-year, which measures distance in space, equals 6 trillion miles.
The groundbreaking discovery was made by the Event Horizon Telescope, an international project involving telescopes across the globe that describes itself as a “virtual Earth-sized telescope.” Telescopes in Hawaii, Arizona, Chile, Mexico, Spain and the South Pole participated in the ambitious research project.
Massimino, who is the author of “Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe,” is impressed by the project’s achievement in capturing such a remote image. “It’s a long way away,” he said. “[Black holes] are hard to see because, when light goes in, it doesn’t escape.”
“It took them two years to analyze the data,” added the former astronaut, who logged more than 570 hours in space. “It’s a ton of data.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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