The team that took the very first actual image of a black hole last April will be winning the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. This amounts to $3 million, of the entire $21.6 million prize money for all categories officiated by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation.
To recap the momentous event, April 10, 2019, was the day of one of the biggest announcements made ever in the field of astrophysics, or even science in general. Making headlines around the world, and taking over online media science communities for the first few days, was the image of a black hole. Not just any artist’s rendition of the cosmic object. Not just any garbled X-ray reading from some radio telescope. But a real, visible-light image of one of the most spectacular objects in the universe.
The black hole that was taken an image of was the supermassive black hole at the center of the M87 galaxy, 55 million light-years away from Earth. Data from eight radio telescopes of the EHT network located at different parts of the globe were put together in order to create the image that you see above.
While it may seem just a fuzzy, uninteresting yellow patch within a black background, the image actually shows real, visible light bending around the black hole. The weaker patch that is seen above actually shows the backside of the entire image, light bending in and round itself due to the massive gravitational pull of the black hole.
Here is Veritasium explaining why the black hole appears as it is in much greater detail:
The prize will be divided among the 347 members of the entire research team, so it’s not exactly going in one piece, or three, as with standard Nobel Prize awards. A sizable portion of the researchers was, after all, tasked with data correlation, sifting through a huge amount of data crunched by a supercomputer after collecting a more raw version of the data from the radio telescope network.
Nonetheless, the award itself is already prestigious enough. Indeed, the researchers did deserve it for such a monumental achievement in the field of Physics and Astronomy,