Black Hole Image Receives an AI Makeover
The first image of a black hole, captured four years ago, stunned scientists and the world with its fuzzy, fiery appearance. Now, researchers have applied artificial intelligence (AI) to refine the image and produce a more detailed view of the black hole.
An Updated Picture
The improved image, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, retains the original shape of the black hole at the center of the M87 galaxy, located 53 million light-years away from Earth, but features a skinnier ring and a sharper resolution. The original 2019 picture was created using data collected from a network of radio telescopes worldwide to visualize the swirling light and gas encompassing the enormous black hole.
Filling in the Gaps
The first image of the black hole wasn’t perfect, as gaps remained in the gathered data, but the latest study utilized machine learning to fill in these missing pieces. The resulting image presents a darker center and thinner, more uniform “doughnut” than the original image.
“For me, it feels like we’re really seeing it for the first time,” said lead author Lia Medeiros, an astrophysicist at the Institute for Advanced Study in New Jersey.
Potential for More AI-Powered Images
The application of machine learning on celestial objects’ images can help scientists uncover more secrets about the universe. The team behind the updated black hole image is now considering using the same AI algorithms and techniques to analyze other celestial objects, including the black hole situated at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.