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.
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.
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.