How The First Image of a Black Hole Compare to Artist’s Impressions

Messier 87, located a mere 55 million light years away, is home to the very first black hole that has been captured on camera. Involving an international effort involving hundreds of researchers and eight telescopes spread across five continents, the image was captured after decades of speculation of what exactly a black hole would look like. (And if you want your mind blown you should read up on exactly what a black hole is.)

Now this image is decidedly blurry, but it’s fascinating to compare it to the artist renditions over the years, seeing how closely they map to the real thing. We’re thrilled to see this scientific advancement, and imagine the images of these black holes will get significantly better over time. Via The Verge:

The very first image of a black hole, located 55 million light years away, in the Virgo cluster. 

An artist’s impression of a supermassive black hole. The spiraling orange matter represents an accretion disc, while the column in the center shows a jet of charged plasma, like the one researchers have observed coming out of the black hole at the center of galaxy M87.Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Black holes don’t play well with others. In this computer-generated image, a black hole (top left) tears apart a star.Image: NASA, S. Gezari (The Johns Hopkins University), and J. Guillochon (University of California, Santa Cruz)

A different interpretation of a star being torn apart by a black hole.Image: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

A computer-generated image of what researchers thought a black hole at the center of a galaxy might look like,Image: NASA, ESA, and D. Coe, J. Anderson, and R. van der Marel (STScI)

Simulated view of a black hole in front of the Large Magellanic Cloud. Note the gravitational lensing effect, which produces two enlarged but highly distorted views of the Cloud. Across the top, the Milky Way disk appears distorted into an arc.

An artist’s impression of a black hole with matter swirling around it in an accretion disc.Image: NASA, and M. Weiss (Chandra X -ray Center)