It’s like the universe had a royal baby: That’s how excited everyone is for this first glimpse of a black hole, which astronomers announced Wednesday morning in D.C.
The image is based on data from radio telescopes all over the world, so it’s not technically even a picture of a black hole. Black holes are, scientifically speaking, unseeable. So it’s really confusing that everyone’s acting like we have a picture of one. This is actually a composite that shows the shadow of a black hole. This may or may not account for why the black hole looks different from how scientists and Hollywood have previously imagined it: It appears as a blurry circle of fire, not unlike, as Twitter users have pointed out, a bright orange doughnut. Also a hoop earring, the letter O made of neon, a SpaghettiO, the bagel emoji, etc. I mean, it’s a circle—it could be anything!
Because of the importance of this achievement—by all accounts, it’s a major breakthrough—the image of the black hole will be practically inescapable in the news and on social media certainly today, and perhaps for the rest of this week.