Whilst most of us have been busy taking closeup selfies, scientists have been busy taking images of something 500 million trillion miles away; a black hole.
This incredible phenomenon has been described by scientists as “a monster” because of its massive diameter of about 40 billion km (three times that of the Earth) and was photographed by a network of eight telescopes across the world.
Profesor Heino Falcke, from Radboud University in the Netherlands, told BBC News that the black hole was found in a galaxy called M87.
“What we see is larger than the size of our entire Solar System,” he said. “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.”
Surrounding the perfectly circular black hole is, in the words of Professor Falcke, “a ring of fire.” The mesmerising halo was formed by superheated gas, falling into the hole. The white – hot flames are one million times brighter than all the stars in our galaxy combined, scientists told BBC News.
A team of 200 scientists is now imaging another enormous black hole at the centre of our own galaxy, the Milky Way. Despite how it sounds, this is harder than getting an image from a distant galaxy 55 million light-years away. This is because, for some unknown reason, the “ring of fire” around the black hole at the heart of the Milky Way is smaller and dimmer; therefore harder to picture and harder to reach.
I think I’ll stick to taking selfies!