The hole, 40 billion km across and located in a distant galaxy, has been described by scientists as “a monster”.
photographed by a network of eight telescopes across the world, the black hole is 500 million trillion km away, according to details of it published on Wednesday, April 10, in Astrophysical Journal Letters.
“What we see is larger than the size of our entire Solar System,” Prof Heino Falcke, of Radboud University in the Netherlands, who proposed the experiment, told BBC.
“It has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the Sun. And it is one of the heaviest black holes that we think exists. It is an absolute monster, the heavyweight champion of black holes in the Universe.”
Prof Falcke describes the hole as an intensely bright “ring of fire”, surrounding a perfectly circular dark hole.
It was learned that the bright halo is caused by superheated gas falling into the hole. The light is brighter than all the billions of other stars in the galaxy combined – which is why it can be seen at such distance from Earth.
The edge of the dark circle at the centre is the point at which the gas enters the black hole, which is an object that has such a large gravitational pull, not even light can escape.
“Although they are relatively simple objects, black holes raise some of the most complex questions about the nature of space and time, and ultimately of our existence,” he said.
“It is remarkable that the image we observe is so similar to that which we obtain from our theoretical calculations. So far, it looks like Einstein is correct once again.”
However, having the first image will enable researchers to learn more about these mysterious objects.