The first real picture of a black hole was shown in Hatfield. Picture: Virgilatte Gwangwa

Pretoria - A South African astrophysicist is among a group of astronomers that captured and revealed the first real image of a black hole which is 55 million light years away away from the earth and is 6.5 billion times bigger than the sun. 

The University of Pretoria's astrophysicist Professor Roger Deane, born in Welkom, was part of the international group of scientists who captured the first image of the black hole which was described as supermassive.

Deane's group worked to develop simulations of the complex, earth-sized telescope used to make this historic discovery. 

The simulations attempted to mimic and better understand the data coming from the real instrument, which was made up of antennas across the globe.

The first picture was unveiled on Wednesday at the Kumba Virtual Reality Centre in Hatfield as part of a global unveiling.

The black hole was found in a galaxy called M87 and looks like a ring of fire surrounding a black dark hole. 

Predicted almost a century ago by Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, a group of astronomers from all over the globe, through the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), constructed an earth-sized virtual telescope array which was able to photograph nearby super massive black holes. 

EHT project director, Shepherd Doeleman of the Center of Astrophysics, Harvard and Smithsonian said of the discovery: “We are giving humanity its first view of a black hole, a one-way door out of our Universe. 

"This is a landmark in astronomy, an unprecedented scientific feat accomplished by a team of more than 200 researchers.”  

Pretoria News