The black hole picture is an astonishing achievement, and one of the most deceptive scientific images ever

The simplistic portrait masks a mind-bendingly complex reality  

By Philip Ball  

The black hole in the new picture sits at the centre of the galaxy M87, which is 55m light years away. Photo: Jin Liwang/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

The groundbreaking picture of a black hole that graced most newspaper front pages on 11th April must be one of the most deceptive scientific images ever. That’s not to impute any intentional deceit to the international team of 200 or so astronomers who created it—it’s just that nature conspires here to produce something that looks archetypally, almost simplistically black-holeish, but which in reality is a mind-bendingly complex sight.

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