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SYFY WIRE Black Holes

European Southern Observatory's new video blasts from Earth to a black hole

By Jeff Spry

If you're looking for a wild road trip to take this weekend, save on a tankful of gas and journey to the far reaches of space beyond the Milky Way from the comforts of your own couch with the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) latest cosmic video.

Earlier this week, scientists revealed a new polarized image of the supermassive black hole at the heart of the M87 galaxy, this time with enhanced clarity and resolution that offers a frightening glimpse of the swirling maw and its magnetic field lines. The original photo, the first-ever imaging of a black hole, was released back in 2019 by The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration.

Now the ESO has created a digital voyage through space that whisks viewers from our Big Blue Marble, all the way out through the Milky Way to rendezvous with M87's resident black hole. Buckle up and get slingshot off planet to a distant galaxy where an angry heavenly entity lurks...

Messier 87, or M87, is an elliptical galaxy which resides in the Virgo cluster some 55 million light-years from Earth. This imposing supermassive black hole has a total mass that is roughly 6.5 billion times that of our sun.

ESO's hypnotic video begins with a shot of ALMA, an ESO partner telescope and also a member of the Event Horizon Telescope array, then zooms-in on the glaring core of M87, revealing increasingly more detailed observations.

At the finale, we see that first-ever shot of a black hole, followed by the new image in polarized light. Whoa!

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