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M87 (also known as Virgo A or NGC 4486) is one of the most massive galaxies in the local Universe. To give you an idea of its size, M87 has a large population of globular clusters (about 12,000) compared with the 150 to 200 orbiting our Milky Way galaxy. It also has a jet of energetic plasma traveling at relativistic speed that originates at the core and extends at least 4900 light-years. It is one of the brightest radio sources in the sky and a popular target for both amateur and professional astronomers. As in most, if not all, spiral galaxies, M87 has a supermassive black hole at its center. Black holes are extraordinary cosmic objects with enormous masses but extremely compact sizes. The extreme density of these objects affects their immediate environment in peculiar ways, warping space-time and super-heating any surrounding material. To date, no one has ever imaged a black hole. But that has now changed with the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through an international collaboration. The EHT was designed specifically to capture images of a black hole. In coordinated press conferences across the globe, EHT researchers revealed the first direct visual evidence of a supermassive black hole and its shadow. The image shows the black hole at the center of M87.Read More
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