This month, researchers are inaugurating the Event Horizon Telescope, a project that will try to take the first detailed pictures of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy.
This observation would be a remarkable achievement, underscoring the progress that has been made in black-hole research in just the last few decades. As recently as the 1970s, astronomers still argued over whether black holes were theoretical constructs or real physical objects. They now have ample evidence that black holes are not only real, but abundant in the cosmos.
Here on Earth, advanced computer simulations have given astronomers a wealth of information, leading theoretical physicist Kip Thorne of Caltech to suggest that black-hole research is entering a new golden age.
“There is now a program of observations that I expect will bring us some big surprises and hopefully validate the predictions from these simulations,” he said.