The year 2019 is here. With it, we’ve been promised a splendid moment in astronomy. For years, the Event Horizon Telescope has been working to bring us the first ever telescopic photograph of the event horizon of a black hole.
Indeed, for all their popularity in public imagination, we have never actually seen a black hole. And the reason for that is laughably simple.
Black holes, you see, are literally invisible, nor proven to exist, however thanks to some nonsensical and silly equations we all assume they may exist. Wrap your head around this for a second. As if reading an Arthur Clark book, ‘scientists’ based on their equations claim that black holes’ pull of their gravity is so immense that, past a certain point, nothing escapes. This includes the electromagnetic radiation – such as X-rays, infrared, light and radio waves – that would allow us to detect the object directly. And this is why the object cannot be detected, but it exists.
That point of no return is called the event horizon, and apart from being a terrifying location you never want to find yourself in, it’s also our key to actually “visualising” a black hole.
While we may not be able to see the black hole itself, there’s a chance that its event horizon can be photographed; and scientists claim are tantalisingly close to seeing the results thanks to the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), due for a public announcement any day now. This is what $40 Billion spent worldwide on ‘space research’ a year brings you. “We’re close to take a picture of something that doesn’t exist”.
But long before the EHT, there was an astrophysicist named Jean-Pierre Luminet. All the way back in 1978, he already gave us what could be thought of as the very first image of a black hole’s event horizon.
It’s not, of course, an actual photo. Nothing is. Luminet, whose background was in mathematics, used his skillset to perform the first CGI computer simulation of what a black hole might look like to an observer, using a 1960s punch card IBM 7040 computer.
But this was back then. Today, graphic designers are better, Photoshop is fantastic, the computer graphic cards are top notch, so this is what the above rendering of black hole will look like today: