How much of space have we explored? Not very much; what we can see (stars, planets, and galaxies included) makes up only about four percent of the entire universe. Today, we can add another intergalactic phenomenon to that list: a black hole.
Using the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), astronomers were able to capture an image of a black hole located in Messier 87, a galaxy over 55 million lightyears away. The EHT, a network of eight smaller telescopes strategically placed around the world, pointed towards M87 for 10 days in hopes of capturing the image. The black hole we see is about three million times the size of the sun, bigger than anything we've ever seen in space before.
So, what exactly are we looking at? The image of the black hole shows a ring of light surrounding a dark circle, confirming scientists' theories about their massive force. The energy inside of black holes is so powerful that the intense pressures and magnetic fields force energy to literally spill out of them—that's why black holes shine so brightly.
The discovery of black holes is often accredited to Albert Einstein and his theory of relativity, which is also known as the geometric theory of gravity. To keep it simple—I'm no astrophysicist—the theory states that a sufficiently compact mass can deform spacetime to form a black hole, a region in space where the gravitational field is so powerful that nothing can escape its pull. Pretty dark stuff, right?
Despite the gravity (get it?) of this discovery, the internet is still the internet, and people couldn't wait to get their black hole jokes off.
Some thought it looked vaguely familiar...
And others couldn't see it at all.
Is it...a spoiler?
And then there's this?
Now that we know what a black hole looks like, I wonder what else is waiting for us out there in space. To infinity and beyond.
For more stories like this, including celebrity news, beauty and fashion advice, savvy political commentary, and fascinating features, sign up for the Marie Claire newsletter.