‘The dawn of a new era in astronomy’

Not long ago, the idea of photographing a black hole was as quixotic as photographing a unicorn. Now, scientists have not one but two images of two different supermassive black holes — and they both look as magical as flaming doughnuts.

“I remember when black holes were purely theoretical,” said Ellen Stofan, under secretary for science and research at the Smithsonian and former chief scientist at NASA, during a post-reveal panel on Thursday. Moderated by Stofan, the conversation brought together four members of the Harvard-led team of scientists that in 2019 revealed to the world the first image of a black hole — a behemoth dubbed M87 after its galaxy, Messier 87. Hours before the panel discussion, the team shared a second image — a close-up of Sagittarius A-star (or Sgr A*), the black hole snacking on light and cosmic debris at the center of our very…
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