Soon, we may get to see one up close for the first time.

Impossibly dense, deep, and powerful, black holes reveal the limits of physics. Nothing can escape one, not even light.

Even though black holes excite the imagination like few other concepts in science, the truth is that no astronomer has actually seen one. We’ve “heard” them, so to speak, as scientists have recorded the gravitational waves (literal ripples in space-time) emanating out from black holes that collided with one another billions of years ago.

But any photo you’ve seen of a dark mass warping spacetime … well, that’s just an illustration. Like this one:

 NASA/Goddard

This soon may change. An audacious global project called the Event Horizon Telescope is currently working to piece together an image of a black hole for the first time. And if they do, it will be a remarkable accomplishment. Because as massive black holes are, they’re actually incredibly hard to see up close.

Why no astronomer has ever seen a black hole with a telescope

Black holes are born when massive stars collapse in on themselves and create a region of gravity so intense that not even light can escape its grasp. Astronomers also speculate that some black holes may have been formed in the early chaotic universe after the big bang.

The biggest problem with trying to see a black hole is that even the supermassive ones (with masses millions of times heavier than our sun) are relatively tiny.

“The largest one in the sky [is] the black hole in the center of the Milky Way,” Dimitrios Psaltis, an astrophysicist at the University of Arizona, explained in an email. “And taking a picture of it would be equivalent to taking a picture of a DVD on the Read More Here