First EVER direct image of a black hole captured by global 'virtual telescope' revealed by scientists

The glowing donut shape shows the black hole at the centre of Messier 87, a massive galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster. /PAP/EPA

The first ever photo of a super massive black hole has been released by the Event Horizon Telescope project.

The stunning first-of-its-kind image depicts a black hole in the centre of the Messier 87 galaxy, 55 million light years from Earth, with a mass of 6.5 billion times the mass of the Sun. 

While black holes are invisible by nature, the ultra-hot material swirling in their midst forms a ring of light around the perimeter that reveals the mouth of the object itself based on its silhouette. 

This boundary is known as the event horizon.

The observation technique applied involved simultaneously aiming all the telescopes towards a specified object from which they collect data.Event Horizon Telescope

To capture the amazing photo, eight ground-based radio telescopes around the globe worked together to create the clearest possible image in April 2017. 

The more sources that can be used the better the data and clear the image is. The image is only now being published after the data was fully calibrated.

The incredible feat confirms a key pillar of science - Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity.    

Dr. Monika Mościbrodzka said the image was captured by eight telescopes that created ‘a virtual telescope’ the size of Earth.Radboud University

Scientists said the shape of the shadow would be almost a perfect circle in Einstein's theory of general relativity, and if it turned out that it was not, there was something wrong with the theory.

The task that was thought impossible only a generation ago was the collective work of over 60 universities and institutions as well as the teams of scientists working for them. 

Two of those who contributed to the historic success were Polish astrophysicists Dr. Monika Mościbrodzka and Dr. Maciek Wielgus.

To capture the amazing photo, eight ground-based radio telescopes around the globe worked together to create the clearest possible image in April 2017. Event Horizon Telescope

The specific role of  Dr. Mościbrodzka who works as an assistant professor in the Department of Astrophysics at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, was analyzing polarimetry, the measurement and interpretation of the polarization of transverse waves, most notably electromagnetic waves, such as radio or light waves.

She told PAP the image “was captured by eight telescopes that created ‘a virtual telescope’ the size of Earth.

“The observation technique that we applied boils down to simultaneously aiming all the telescopes towards a specified object from which they collect data.”

She added: “Supermassive black holes are scattered all over the Universe.

The incredible feat confirms a key pillar of science - Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity.Public domain

“At the moment we have plenty of proof that black holes may be found in the centre of every single galaxy. 

“The problem is that they are usually too distant for us to capture them with our telescopes. 

“Meanwhile, the black holes that we have chosen are quite bright, are found relatively close and are large enough for us to spot them.” 

Dr. Monika Mościbrodzka said: 'Supermassive black holes are scattered all over the Universe. At the moment we have plenty of proof that black holes may be found in the centre of every single galaxy.'STEPHANIE LECOCQ/PAP/EPA

Dr. Mościbrodzka has been involved in 64 scientific publications and already provides the images that most of the international media use when showing black holes, with her  ‘Galactic center black hole’. 

She describes herself as: “An astrophysicist enjoying numerical astrophysics, modeling fluid dynamics, imaging black hole shadows, chasing accelerated particles.”