KARACHI: Last week was a momentous one for science. More than a century after it was first theoretically articulated, a team of more than 200 scientists from around the world finally produced the first real visual evidence for a black hole – a cosmic body that up till now had only been seen in science fiction blockbusters like Interstellar.

The image, produced by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, shows the shadow of a supermassive black hole at the centre of the Messier 87 galaxy, roughly 53 million light-years away from us here on Earth. The shadow is surrounded by an asymmetric emission ring, visible as a yellow-orange glow in the image, believed to be the black hole’s event horizon – a region in spacetime that would, in layman’s terms, be the ‘point of no return’ should something venture close enough to the cosmic entity.

But what does all of this mean for the casual observer? Like the black hole’s proposed name Pōwehi – which means ‘embellished dark source of unending creation’ in the Hawaiian language – for someone who is not a student of astrophysics, the significance of the development remains shrouded in darkness.

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“Basically, the observational results obtained by the EHT or the image of the black hole, if you will, has proved Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity,” said Dr Shahid Qureshi, the former director of the Karachi University Institute of Space and Planetary Astrophysics (ISPA).

“The ideas pertaining to black holes presented by Einstein are concordant with the EHT’s observational results. This means that while there may be additions and modifications to Einstein’s theory of relativity, it is unlikely that any of his ideas will be excised from the framework,” he told The Express Tribune.

According to Dr Qureshi, while the development may not result in any tangible technological advancement that impact people’s day to day lives, it would increase our understanding of the universe exponentially.