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Messier 87 - and THAT black hole!

Messier 87 - and THAT black hole!

This week saw the announcement that we have for the first time imaged a black hole.  So just some fun facts about this:

  • The event horizon is around 2.5 times smaller than the shadow it casts and measures just under 40 billion km across.
  • The ring is only about 40 micro-arcseconds across. This is equivalent to measuring the length of a credit card on the surface of the Moon from the Earth! To give an idea of scale see the image below from the NSF that shows the scale of the image in comparison to our Solar System.

Black Hole Ring with scale

  • M87 is around 500 million trillion km or 55 million light years away [meaning light has taken 55 million years to reach Earth (as a reference the dinosaurs were wiped out around 65 million years ago!!)]
  • The M87 black hole has a mass 6.5 BILLION times that of our Sun all packed into a very very time volume...the black hole in the centre of our own galaxy is a mere 4.3m million solar masses.
  • M87 has a relativistic jet emanating from its black hole. The Hubble Space Telescope has captured this feature.....see below).....

M87 Relativistic Jet
......and YOU can image the jet too!!!!....and you don't need HUBBLE or a large telescope! A telescope like a Celestron C8, or larger, can be used!

Here is a link to an image taken with a Celestron Evolution 8" telescope using a live stack of 15 x 2 second (YES - 2 second) exposures using a low cost imaging camera.

Below is a link to an image taken with a Celestron C11 using Starlight Xpress Ultrastar camera created using just 10x20second exposures.

M87 is visible in the sky after dark in the east so is visible for quite a large proportion of the night. See the image, a screenshot, taken from Stellarium showing its location when it gets dark. So if its clear tonight why not try and capture this amazing phenomenon from this huge black hole in M87.

Stellarium showing M87 position

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