Astronomers are just minutes away from revealing the first images of a black hole (or, more accurately, the area immediately around it, since the hole itself pulls in all light and matter).
The pictures, captured by the Event Horizon Telescope, will show the black holes at the center of two galaxies: our own galaxy, the Milky Way, and the Messier 87 (M87) galaxy.
They will be shown in a press conference beginning at 9am ET (2pm BST) today, April 10. When the conference begins, you will be able to watch the live stream below.
Until now, our knowledge of black holes has been based on inferences rather than direct observation. The black hole at the center of the Milky Way, Sagittarius A, is 26,000 light years from Earth, while Messier 87 is nearly 54 million light years away – and both are shrouded by clouds of dust and gas.
Despite its name, the Event Horizon Telescope is actually a collection of eight radio telescopes located around the world, precisely co-ordinated using highly accurate atomic clocks. Together, they effectively creating a global observatory.with the power to let us observe Sagittarius A for the first time.
This will be a groundbreaking moment for the scientific community, testing predictions based on the Theory of General Relativity.
Matter pulled in by the black hole is believed to settle in a disc-like formation (the accretion disc), moving faster and becoming hotter as it draws closer to the event horizon, creating light. This light is expected to bend around the event horizon to create a lopsided, glowing ring, which researchers are hoping to see for the first time.