On Thursday, scientists unveiled an improved image of the black hole that was first captured in 2019. Despite being hailed as a significant achievement at the time, one astrophysicist involved in the effort described the earlier image as a “fuzzy orange donut” and noted its lack of clarity.
Scientists produced the new image using the same data, but they achieved an improved resolution. To fill in gaps that were present in the original telescope observations, scientists utilized image reconstruction algorithms.
Black holes, by their very nature, are difficult to observe, as they are celestial entities that exert such strong gravitational pull that no matter or light can escape them.
The new image unveils a visible ring of light that the material being sucked into the black hole represents. This ring appears to be approximately half the width of the previous image. Furthermore, the center of the image displays a larger “brightness depression,” which occurs due to the light and other matter disappearing into the black hole.
The image remains somewhat blurry due to the limitations of the data underpinning it.
Messier 87 Galaxy
This supermassive black hole resides in a galaxy called Messier 87, or M87, about 54 million light-years from Earth. A light year is the distance light travels in a year, 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion km). This galaxy, with a mass 6.5 billion times that of our sun, is larger and more luminous than our Milky Way.
“I affectionately refer to the previous image as the ‘fuzzy orange donut”. I have been referring to this image as the ‘skinny donut,’. A name which sounds incredibly unappetizing. We’ve also discussed ‘diet donut.”. Another name which is equally unappetizing,”. Said astrophysicist Lia Medeiros of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. She is the lead author of the research published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.