Memes dictionary

first image of a black hole

[furst im-ij uhv uh blak hohl]

What does first image of a black hole mean?

The first image of a black hole was the historic, first-ever image of a black hole, captured in 2019. The image was the subject of much amazement—and humor, especially in the form of internet jokes and memes.

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Where does first image of a black hole come from?

Event Horizon Telescope

On April 10, 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope, a collaboration of observatories involving over 200 scientists from 2o countries, made a groundbreaking announcement: They revealed they had captured what became referred to as the first image of a black hole.

While the existence of black holes has long been described (and predicted by Einstein in his 1915 theory of general relativity), photographing one was thought nearly impossible due to technological limitations, distance—and, oh, the fact that nothing, not even light, can escape their gravity.

But, the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration managed the impossible by capturing an image of the non-invisible parts of a black hole in the Messier 87 galaxy, located over 53 million light-years from Earth. The science is very complex, but the image (made by processing radio waves on a computer) shows a fuzzy, orange ring. This represents glowing gas and dust heated by the black hole. The dark center is the result shadow of the black hole. The mass of that black hole? Over seven billion times the sun’s.

Event Horizon Telescope

The image was of massive scientific significance, providing further proof of Einstein’s theory of relativity—and our understanding of that fundamental force of the universe: gravity. Every mainstream media outlet on Earth—which is, thankfully, not near any black holes, though a black hole is at the center of our galaxy—reported on the first image of black hole.

The image spread across the internet, where many on social media made jokes and memes about what they thought the image looked like. One popular joke was that the image resembled the fiery Eye of Sauron from Lord of the Rings.

Examples of first image of a black hole

Dennis Overbye, New York Times (headline), April, 2019
ZME Science
@garcky3 / Pocket-lint

Who uses first image of a black hole?

After the image’s release, everyone from leading scientists to countless meme-makers referred to the first image of a black hole and similar constructions (e.g., first-ever image).

One scientist instrumental to the image was Katie Bouman, a young researcher who was both celebrated for her key contributions—and, unfortunately, trolled by some men on the internet.

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