Each of the nearly 350 scientists involved receives around $ 8,646. Capturing the first direct image of a black hole earned a researcher team the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) an “Oscar of Science” – the 2020 Breakthrough Prize – along with $ 3 million.

The EHT team received the award “for the first image of a supermassive black hole, which was taken with the help of an earth-sized alliance of telescopes,” it said in a statement of the award winners.

They added that the prize will be shared “equally among the 347 scientists working on one of the six papers published by the EHT on April 10, 2019,” meaning that each co-author will receive approximately $ 8,646.

In April, the EHT researchers impressed the world with a bright orange ring surrounding a dark shadow thrown from a black hole in the M87 galaxy. The picture shows the contours of the black hole event horizon, beyond which all light and matter succumb to the irresistible gravitational force of gravity.

Receiving the prize was “wonderful confirmation of more than a decade of hard work, risk-taking, failures, achievements, and building a team of experts committed to the highest scientific goals,” said EHT Director Sheperd S. Doeleman, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

To create this amazing image, Doeleman and hundreds of other scientists used data from eight telescopes around the world.That’s how an earth-sized “eye” emerged, powerful enough to look into the heart of a galaxy in the Virgo Cluster. Years from our planet. We split up into four teams, each working independently to map the data, “said Doeleman Live Science in an email. When the teams met in July 2018 to compare their results, they found that all groups produced similar images that showed the silhouette of the black hole.

We were impressed. We almost did not believe it, “he said.But after many months of continued analysis, we were convinced that the ring marking the orbit of light around the black hole is real. And then we celebrated. What’s next for the EHT team?

The researchers want to extend the EHT network of telescopes and bring radios into space to record films from black holes, Doeleman told Live Science. Switching from still images to black hole video will allow new gravity tests and allow us to study in detail how black holes feed on incoming gas, “he said in the email.

According to the Breakthrough Prize website, the shape of the Breakthrough Prize trophy, a donut-like, three-dimensional shape called a torus, can be seen in black holes in the massive, dusty clouds that surround it.

The groundbreaking EHT discovery made black holes visible for the first time, but only after many years of dedicated work. Winning the breakthrough price for this achievement “underscores the long-term commitment needed for such discoveries,” said Doeleman.

It signals to the public that we have to play the ‘long game’ to invest in science, although it can take decades for it to pay off, “he said.