For years, scientists have been trying to pinpoint what exactly a black hole is and why it happens in the first place. There are tons of theories, from black holes representing creation to Hawking’s latest theory of them being a sort of portal to another universe, but they still remain a mystery.

People are unable see black holes, which makes their allure that much more intriguing. However, for the first time in history, scientists think they have finally figured out a way to capture an image of a black hole using a virtual telescope. Will this take us one step further toward understanding black holes, and more importantly, the role they play in the multiverse?

What Is a Black Hole? 

NASA describes a black hole as “a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light can not get out. The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space. This can happen when a star is dying.”

However, NASA explains that we cannot actually see black holes: “Because no light can get out, people can’t see black holes. They are invisible. Space telescopes with special tools can help find black holes. The special tools can see how stars that are very close to black holes act differently than other stars.”

There are many theories on why black holes form. Some scientists think the smallest black holes were created when the universe began. Stellar black holes, on the other hand, form when the center of a large star falls into itself or collapses, resulting in supernova, which is essentially an exploding star that shoots different parts of itself into outer space.

Because of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, many scientists believe that any information or anything that falls into a black hole and goes past the event horizon will never make it out.

However, Stephen Hawking‘s latest theory on black holes suggests that not all information is lost when sucked into a black hole. As Hawking explains, “They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought. Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly come out in another universe.”

Last week, scientists “switched on” a group of eight radio telescopes around the world in hopes of imaging the supermassive black hole that’s 26,000 light-years away at the center of our galaxy, Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*). The array of telescopes is being referred to as Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) and it’s running from April 5-14.

This is because the scientists are hoping to measure the event horizon, or the “point of no return,” where the black hole’s gravitational pull is so strong that no one or thing can escape it.

The EHT’s group of international observatories forms a “virtual telescope,” which is technically comparable to the size of Earth. PBS NewsHour checked out one of the sites at Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile’s Atacama desert over two years ago, but that was when the EHT wasn’t fully functioning yet.

“We’re trying to image a black hole, and those are some of the smallest objects in the universe,” MIT astronomer Shep Doeleman explained to the NewsHour. “So you need the biggest telescope to observe the smallest object.”

“These are the observations that will help us to sort through all the wild theories about black holes. And there are many wild theories,” team member Gopal Narayanan of the University of Massachusetts Amherst explained in a statement. “With data from this project, we will understand things about black holes that we have never understood before.”

The results are anticipated to be announced either later this year or in early 2018.

Of course, this may not work, but it could also represent a huge shift in the way we look at our universe. People often feel as though science gives us concrete answers, but in reality, most great scientists recognize that science cannot provide an explanation for everything. It is said that the more we learn, the more we realize how little we know, and that is especially true for science.

Maybe black holes represent portals for us to travel to different universes, or maybe they’re just strange vacuums that mysteriously eliminate everything that comes into their paths. Hopefully this will bring us one step closer to understanding what black holes truly are, or at the very least, what they look like!