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A brief history of black holes after the first photograph of one

At precisely 13:00 Universal Time on Wednesday — 9 a.m. in the Eastern United States — scientists will hold simultaneous news conferences in Washington, Belgium, Denmark, Chile, Japan, China and Taiwan to reveal the long-awaited results of the Event Horizon Telescope. What everyone is expecting and hoping to see is the first direct image of a black hole.

The Event Horizon Telescope is a network of 10 radio telescopes on four continents that collectively operate like a single instrument nearly the size of the Earth. The scientists behind this mega-telescope boast that their ability to resolve objects in deep space is equivalent to being able to count the dimples on a golf ball in Los Angeles while standing in New York City.

An astronomical photograph of a black hole would represent a tremendous breakthrough for astrophysics and the culmination of a century of theoretical and observational labor. Even a generation or two ago, scientists weren’t entirely confident that black holes existed, because even though they looked plausible mathematically, the observational evidence was indirect.

Read entire article at Washington Post