Astronomers capture 1st ever photo of massive black hole

The photo captured over 50 million light years away is 20 billion miles across and the image shows a ring of superheated gas around the black hole.
3:33 | 04/11/19

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Transcript for Astronomers capture 1st ever photo of massive black hole
Kennedy airport forced to make an emergency landing after striking an object during takeoff. Take a look at this picture taken by one of the passengers that shows the damage to the plane's wing. One of the passengers said the plane went sideways in the air before the pilot could straighten it out. Fortunately, none of the 100 passengers and crew members on board were hurt. We turn now to a stunning breakthrough. Astronomers capture the first ever image of a black hole. Matt Gutman is in Los Angeles with the discovery made 55 million light years away. Good morning, Matt. Reporter: Far, far away. Good morning, Michael. Scientists have theorized for over a century that black holes have existed but it wasn't until this team figured out a way to see the unseeable because black holes trap all light, that we got this iconic glimpse of the most destructive force in the universe. It's arguably the most famous doughnut hole of all time. That first image of a black hole. I never believed that this black hole was as big as people said until we saw that. M-87 is over 50 million light years away, and that doughnut is 20 billion miles across. And getting that snapshot wasn't the hunt for that incredible snapshot chronicled on the smithsonian channel. After more than ten years of planning, $50 million, and the combined brain power of over 200 international scientists -- Reporter: What we see isn't actually the black hole where gravity is so powerful it can suck in galaxies and traps all light. What you're seeing is the ring of super heated gas around it. We now know that a black hole that weighs 6.5 billion times what our sun does exists in the center of m-87 and this is the strongest evidence we have to date for the existence of black Reporter: Since Albert Einstein theorized it over 100 years ago, black holes have been the source of human fascination, the source of songs. Plenty of b-grade movies. It is the one true force of absolute power. Reporter: And apparently the obsession of bad guys everywhere. The discovery team believes the image will be as iconic as the Earth rise, that unforgettable shot of Earth from space. Everything will be different from now on going forward because of the fact that we saw the most energetic part of the universe. Reporter: So how do you see the unseeable? Well, with an earth-sized telescope those scientists linked together basically 8 giant radio telescopes across the globe that kind of look like those dishes behind me but the weather had to be just right at all of those locations for the images to work which is why they only got off one good series in 2017. Scientists say they are going to try again with even Mortell scopes. The image is amazing. There's one woman, Katie Bouman, who was critical to this effort. Reporter: She's a grad student that developed the algorithm that crunched down a galaxy's worth of image to get that image and, Michael, she's only 29 years old. Makes me realize I'm a Also this morning, we have that incredible survival story,

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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