Scientists are trying to photograph a black hole, this is how...

  • 5 June 2017
Artist's image of a black hole Image copyright ESA
Image caption This is an artist's image of a black hole

Astronomers are hoping they'll soon have the first picture of a black hole - ever!

Sounds out of this world, right?

A black hole is a dying star that has collapsed inward from its own weight.

The pull of gravity from its centre becomes so strong that even light can't escape, which is why it looks black.

Our local supermassive black hole is called Sagittarius A* and lies more than 26,000 light years away.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The IRAM telescope in Spain is the only European observatory taking part

So how have astronomers been attempting to take a photo of it?

Well, there was a LOT of teamwork involved.

Eight observatories from all over the world were linked together electronically to form one giant virtual telescope called the Event Horizon Telescope (or EHT for short).

Michael Bremer, an astronomer and project manager for the EHT, said the telescope is powerful enough to spot a golf ball on the Moon!

For the best chance of zooming in and focusing on the black hole, the astronomers waited for good weather.

Then they spent five nights recording data.

Image copyright Hotaka Shiokawa/CFA/HARVARD
Image caption The EHT team has produced computer drawings of what a black hole looks like

There's a lot of data to go through...

All of the data is being collected and flown to the MIT Haystack Observatory in Massachusetts, America.

They have supercomputers that can process the information, which could be as much as 10,000 laptops worth!

But even supercomputers need time to process that much information, and the data from the South Pole telescope can't be collected until October when it starts to get a bit warmer.

So it's going to take a few months to find out if the astronomers really have managed to take a photo of a black hole.

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