WHEN it comes to black holes, seeing is believing. You are looking at something which no-one other than a few scientists had ever seen before yesterday.

It is one of the most extraordinary sights in the Universe, the first image of arguably the most mysterious object in space.

It took the genius of Albert Einstein to first imagine and describe – and he got it right, as usual.

The point about a black hole is that it cannot be seen.

Not even light can escape from this trapdoor in space that sucks in everything around it. But as of yesterday, we can see the event horizon – the point of no return around the black hole – surrounding this particular “monster” of a black hole. It lies 500 million trillion kilometres away from us at the centre of the Messier 87 (M87) galaxy which itself is 55 million light years from Earth.

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Scientists and pundits were falling over themselves yesterday to proclaim the importance of the image, and for once hyperbole is permitted because this truly is a revolutionary moment in science.

The National:

Albert Einstein

So crucial is the image that it was revealed simultaneously in six cities on three continents by scientists, some of whom wept at the sight of the previously unseeable. Journalists and scientists alike stood to applaud the showing of the M87 black hole. The image had been captured by a team of eight radio telescopes working together round the world to create, in effect, one giant array that was dubbed the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). It took years of co-operation between 200 scientists working together globally, with much of the funding coming from the European Union.

Professor Heino Falcke, of Radboud University in the Netherlands, who first proposed the experiment 20 years ago, said it was a “dream come true”.

He added: “What we see is larger than the size of our entire Solar System. It has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the Sun. And it is one of the heaviest black holes that we think exists. It is an absolute monster, the heavyweight champion of black holes in the Universe.”

TV astronomer Professor Brian Cox tweeted: “Here is the image of the black hole in M87 and, at the press conference, the Event Horizon team just said it is precisely as predicted by General Relativity. Einstein right again – wouldn’t he have loved to see this!”

Sheperd Doeleman, EHT director and Harvard University senior research fellow said: “Black holes are the most mysterious objects in the universe. We have seen what we thought was unseeable. We have taken a picture of a black hole.”