The European Commission will present a ground-breaking discovery by Event Horizon Telescope.
PARIS - The world is finally about to see a black hole -- not an artist's impression or a computer-generated likeness, but the real thing.
At six press conferences across the globe, scientists will unveil the first results from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), conceived precisely for that purpose.
It has been a long wait
Of all the forces in the Universe that we cannot see -- including dark energy and dark matter -- none has frustrated human curiosity as thoroughly as the invisible, star-devouring monsters known as black holes.
Yet, the phenomena are so powerful that nothing nearby -- not even light -- can escape their gravitational pull.
Two candidates are vying to be in the first-ever image.
Oddsmakers favour Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the centre of our own spiral galaxy, the Milky Way.
Sag A* has four million times the mass of our Sun, and measures about 24 million kilometres across.
That may sound like a big target, but for the telescope array on Earth some 26,000 light years (245 trillion kilometres) away, it's like trying to photograph a golf ball on the Moon.
The other candidate is 1,500 times more massive still, ensconced in a faraway elliptical galaxy known as M87.
Comparing the two, distance and size balance out, making it roughly as easy (or hard) to pinpoint either.
Ripples in time-space
A black hole is a celestial object that compresses a huge mass into an extremely small space. The more mass, the larger the black hole.
At the same scale of compression, Earth's mass would fit inside a thimble, while the Sun's would be a mere six kilometres from edge to edge.