Doughnut Of Doom

Taking a more expansive look at an ever-more-familiar black hole.

A patch of pure nothing in a faraway galaxy has become the gravitational center of attention for radio astronomers.

That would be giant black hole, with the gravity of 6.5 billion suns, that spits high-energy particles from the center of the galaxy Messier 87, which is some 50 million light-years from Earth.

In 2019, astronomers operating a network of radio telescopes dazzled the world by producing a radio map of the entity - the first-ever image of a black hole.

It showed a fuzzy doughnut of energy, the glowing radiation produced by doomed matter circling the dark door to eternity.

In March a subset of the same team, using artificial intelligence to analyze the original data created a sharper image that showed a thinner doughnut of doom around an even blacker center.

Now a third group has harnessed a different web of observatories - including the Global Millimeter VLBI Array, the Atacama Large Millimeter/ submillimeter in Chile and the Greenland Telescope - to capture a zoomed-out view of the black hole.

Their image shows the base of the well-studied jet of energy and particles that arises from the center of the M87 galaxy. [ Dennis Overbye ].


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