All black hole images you've ever seen have been artist's renditions; but in 2017, a team of astronomers set out to officially photograph of a black hole. Now that it's been a while, why don’t we have that photo yet? The short answer is: it’s not ready yet.
The observations are comprised of several petabytes’ worth of data, and every bit of that needs to be sorted through and compiled into a single image. To do that, at least four separate teams are trying to compose their own images, which will be compared to one another at the end to discern whether the representation is consistent or not.
We can’t photograph a black hole directly, but we can observe the plasma around the black hole as it’s pulled around and into the black hole’s event horizon. Astronomers hope to use this means to develop a general image of the black hole’s shape and size to better understand its structure and how it pulls in the surrounding matter.
Black holes have long captivated the best minds in science, and we still know so little about them. With a little luck, perhaps this massive store of data will result in the best photograph of a black hole yet, helping to answer many of the questions that remain about them.