They presented for the first time a picture of a black hole in the heart of the galaxy known as Messier 87, some 55 million light-years away from the Earth. The black hole is about seven billion times more massive than the sun. The energy within is thought to be powerful enough to power quasars and other violent phenomena from the nuclei of galaxies, including the jets of intense radiation that spew 5,000 light-years from the galaxy M87.
The picture shows a lopsided ring of light surrounding a dark circle. The image emerged from two years of computer analysis of observations from a network of radio antennas called the Event Horizon Telescope, after eight radio observatories on six mountains and four continents observed the galaxy in Virgo for 10 days in April 2017. By combining data from radio telescopes as far apart as the South Pole, France, Chile and Hawaii, using a technique called very long baseline interferometry, Dr. Doeleman and his colleagues created a telescope as big as Earth itself.