The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
This Is the First-Ever Photo of a Black Hole
By Judith Hartl
Here it is! The very first picture of a black hole. At six press conferences simultaneously — in Brussels, Washington, Taipei, Tokyo, Shanghai, Santiago de Chile — researchers presented the remarkable photo: A dark circle with a flaming orange ring of light.
The researchers couldn't do this with a telescope. A telescope of this size would have to be as large as the Earth. Because this is impossible, the researchers came up with a trick. They connected eight strong radio telescopes around the globe to simulate a giant telescope. Since 2017, they have collected data on data, packed them together and were able to prove with a picture what Albert Einstein had already calculated 100 years ago: that there must be something with such a mass that it attracts, swallows and distracts from its orbit anything close to it.
This photo, presented by researchers from the international research project Event Horizon Telescope, is groundbreaking. A new era, as Carlos Moedas, the European Unions's research commissioner, put it in Brussels. That is definitely true. It would be worthy of a Nobel Prize. Because black holes are what they are called: black, dark, invisible. Black holes have such a large mass that they swallow anything that approaches them. They even swallow their own light, so they are not visible. The gravity of black holes is unimaginably great.
Why Do Researchers Know That Black Holes Exist?
Black holes have no surface like planets or stars. Rather, they are areas in space. They have huge "mouths," waiting to devour everything that comes too close to them. They divert stars, nebulae and light from their orbit, pushing them, squeezing them, pulling all matter towards them, resulting in them orbiting the black abyss like whirlpools. These distractions can be measured by researchers. They know that there must be something enormous, something of gigantic power, doing its work.
How Are Black Holes Formed?
In very different ways. For example, when a massive star dies, it explodes. Researchers call this a supernova. The star repels its outer layers while the rest collapses, leaving behind a relatively small black hole that no longer lets any light escape due to its mega-mass.
Black holes can also occur when two stars collide and then unite. If the mass is particularly large, this new star can collapse and become a black hole.
And then there are supermassive black holes. They can have millions or billions of times the mass of our sun. They are at the center of most galaxies, including our Milky Way. Researchers do not yet know how they were formed. They suspect that several black holes may have fused there.
Why Are Black Holes So Important?
Without the power of black holes, our universe would probably look quite different. It could even be that galaxies can only be formed by black holes.
Which Black Holes Do You Need to Know About?
The international research team in Hawaii, Arizona, Spain, Mexico, Chile and at the South Pole has been observing and measuring a few since 2017. One is Sagittarius A, a supermassive black hole in the center of our Milky Way. Sagittarius A is 26,000 light years away from Earth and over four million times more massive than our Sun.
The second candidate is the supermassive black hole in the giant galaxy M87 in the Virgo cluster. It is even further away from us, namely 55 million light years (if you can still imagine that) and it has 6.6 billion solar masses.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Deutsce Welle.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Alina Petre, MS, RD (CA)
Veganism refers to a way of living that attempts to minimize animal exploitation and cruelty. For this reason, vegans aim to exclude all foods containing meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and honey from their diet (1).
'Finally!': Court Orders EPA to Stop Stalling Potential Ban on Pesticide Tied to Brain Damage in Kids
By Jessica Corbett
In a ruling welcomed by public health advocates, a federal court on Friday ordered the Trump administration to stop stalling a potential ban on a pesticide linked to brain damage in children, giving regulators until mid-July to make a final decision.
At EcoWatch, our team knows that changing personal habits and taking actions that contribute to a better planet is an ongoing journey. Earth Day, happening on April 22, is a great reminder for all of us to learn more about the environmental costs of our behaviors like food waste or fast fashion.
To offer readers some inspiration this Earth Day, our team rounded up their top picks for films to watch. So, sit back and take in one of these documentary films this Earth Day. Maybe it will spark a small change you can make in your own life.
By Shuchi Talati
Solar geoengineering describes a set of approaches that would reflect sunlight to cool the planet. The most prevalent of these approaches entails mimicking volcanic eruptions by releasing aerosols (tiny particles) into the upper atmosphere to reduce global temperatures — a method that comes with immense uncertainty and risk. We don't yet know how it will affect regional weather patterns, and in turn its geopolitical consequences. One way we can attempt to understand potential outcomes is through models.
By Julia Conley
Green groups on Saturday celebrated the latest federal ruling aimed at preventing President Donald Trump from rolling back environmental regulations that were put in place by his predecessor.
By Tim Radford
Scientists have identified yet another hazard linked to the thawing permafrost: laughing gas. A series of flights over the North Slope of Alaska has detected unexpected levels of emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide from the rapidly warming soils.