First black hole image is a triumph of globalisation – leader comment

The first image taken of a black hole in the M87 galaxy, 500 million trillion kilometres away, demonstrates the benefits of people from different countries working together.

The first ever image of a black hole
The first ever image of a black hole

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, there was an “absolute monster”.

This wasn’t a scary fictional alien from Star Wars, but a very real black hole, the first ever to have its picture taken by astronomers.

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It may be huge at three million times the size of the Earth, but given the hole is an extraordinary 500 million trillion kilometres away, it was quite a feat to be able to capture an image of its shadow and the fiery disc of material around it – and one considered impossible until recently.

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Here is the first ever image of a black hole

It was only accomplished because of collaboration on a global scale involving more than 200 researchers and eight telescopes – including the James Clerk Maxwell telescope, named after the Scottish physicist, in Hawaii and others in Arizona, Spain, Mexico, Chile and Antarctica.

These were linked together to form one “Earth-sized” telescope so powerful that it could theoretically read a newspaper in New York from as far away as Paris.

It is evidence, if it were needed, that together we are stronger, that international collaboration and indeed “globalisation”, a dirty word to some, can help us do great things, even achieve the impossible.