On Feb. 14, 1990, the Voyager 1 spacecraft looked back at our solar system and snapped the first-ever pictures of the planets from its perch at that time beyond Neptune. This past April, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) team unveiled humanity’s first image of a supermassive black hole –described as the Gates of Hell and the End of Spacetime– the picture of galaxy Messier 87’s central supermassive black hole. A monster the size of our solar system, and bigger, with the mass of six and a half billion suns, with a ring of gas—in hues of red, orange, and yellow—glowing around it, the shadow cast by the event horizon, predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
“A medium-sized galaxy fell through the center of M87, and as a consequence of the enormous gravitational tidal forces, its stars are now scattered over a region that is 100 times larger than the original galaxy!” said Ortwin Gerhard, head of the dynamics group at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics about the monster elliptical galaxy that harbors the now iconic black hole the size of our solar system imaged for the first time ever by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) on April 10, 2019.
That first black hole at the center of Galaxy M87 seen in the Event Horizon Telescope image is now called “Pōwehi” from the Kumulipo, a centuries-old Hawaiian creation chant of 2,102 lines; it means “the adorned fathomless dark creation.” It stems from “pō,” which means powerful, unfathomable and ceaseless creation, and “wehi,” an honorific befitting someone who would wear a crown, according to it’s benefactor, Larry Kimura, a professor of Hawaiian language with the University of Hawai’i.