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Students Watch Historic Black Hole Press Conference

4/24/2019

On Wednesday, April 10, students assembled in the Clay Center Lecture Hall to watch the press conference announcing the first image ever made of a black hole and its surroundings. Director of the Clay Center Observatory Dr. Felipe Santos organized the event, which marked a historical moment for astrophysics and science at large. The press conference itself was held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Students, along with millions of others watching, saw the image created by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration first-hand during the conference. The EHT is a global array of radio telescopes involving dozens of institutions and hundreds of scientists. The breakthrough discovery by the EHT was an image of Messier 87’s (M87’s) supermassive black hole in the center of the Virgo galaxy cluster, 55 million light years away. M87’s supermassive black hole contains 6.5 billion times the mass of our Sun.
 
A black hole is a region of spacetime where gravity is so strong that nothing can escape from inside of it, not even light. However, the region close to it emits light that escapes the gravitational pull of the black hole and is visible to us.
 
Photo credit: Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

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