South African Scientists Helped Forge New Historic Black Hole Image

A view of the Messier 87 supermassive black hole in polarised light.
analysis

Contributing to astronomy's 'sharpest photography', local brainpower helps take us closer to some of the most mesmerising objects in the universe.

The research effort that gave Earthlings their first image of a black hole's shadow in 2019 has sent waves of excitement rippling across this part of the Milky Way yet again -- this time showing in bright detail the face of a supermassive object in the Messier 87 galaxy.

Produced by the Event Horizon Telescope, the new photography presents science's most graphic peek yet at the secret life of magnetic fields on the edge of a black hole, and it calls on polarised light to do so.

The supermassive black hole lives at the heart of the M87 galaxy in a cosmic address located 55 million light years from Earth -- this is just as well, because the galaxy's core can eject energetic jets across interstellar and intergalactic space.

"We are now seeing the next crucial piece of evidence to understand how magnetic fields behave around black holes, and how activity in this very compact region of space can drive powerful jets that extend far beyond the galaxy," says Monika Mościbrodzka of the Netherlands' Radboud University. Mościbrodzka is a...

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