Scientists have recently discovered that the famous black hole known as M87* has gotten even darker. This supermassive black hole, located in the center of the Messier 87 galaxy, first made headlines in 2019 when researchers captured the first-ever image of its shadow. However, new observations have revealed that the black hole’s shadow has gotten even darker over the past two years.
The team of researchers, led by astrophysicist Maciek Wielgus of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, used the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) to observe M87* in April 2019 and again in March 2021. The EHT is a network of eight radio telescopes located around the world that are used to study black holes and other cosmic phenomena.
The researchers found that the black hole’s shadow had shrunk by about 15% since the 2019 observations, which suggests that it has grown even darker. The shadow is created by the black hole’s intense gravitational pull, which bends and distorts light around it. The darker the shadow, the stronger the gravitational pull.
Wielgus and his team are still analyzing the data to determine why the black hole’s shadow has become darker. One possibility is that the black hole has been consuming more matter, which would increase its mass and gravitational pull. Another possibility is that the material around the black hole has become more turbulent, which would make it harder for light to escape.
M87* is one of the largest black holes known to exist, with a mass of about 6.5 billion times that of the sun. It is located about 55 million light-years away from Earth in the Virgo galaxy cluster. The black hole’s immense size makes it an ideal target for study, as its gravity can be observed affecting the motion of stars and gas around it.
The 2019 image of M87*’s shadow was a groundbreaking achievement for astrophysics, as it confirmed the existence of black holes and provided new insights into their behavior. The new observations of the black hole’s darker shadow will help researchers better understand the physics of these mysterious objects and how they shape the universe around them.
In conclusion, the recent discovery of M87*’s even darker shadow has sparked excitement among scientists and astronomy enthusiasts alike. This black hole continues to provide new insights into the mysteries of the universe, and researchers will undoubtedly continue to study it for years to come.