Photographing a Black Hole

Using the EHT, scientists obtained an image of the black hole at the center of galaxy M87, outlined by emission from hot gas swirling around it under the influence of strong gravity near its event horizon.
Credit: Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al.

A team of astronomers published the first photograph of a black hole. The “monster,” as they’ve called it, is 40 million kilometers across (about 3 million times the size of Earth), located at the center of a galaxy known as Messier 87, about 500 million trillion kilometers away.

The image was captured by a network of eight telescopes named Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), and assembled with an algorithm developed by young computer scientist Katie Bouman.

Dr. Eliot Quataert is the Director of the Theoretical Astrophysics Center at UC Berkeley and an Editorial Committee Member of the Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophyics. His research focuses in part on black holes and galaxy formation. He spoke to Annual Reviews about this breakthrough.

What do you make of this announcement?

This is an incredibly exciting result. I was expecting something good but was even more amazed and impressed by the results than I had expected to be. It really is a testament to the hard work of hundreds of people over decades that we have been able to take this first real picture of what it looks like close to a black hole.

What new paths for research do you expect this will open?

The observations will continue to get better as the technology improves and new telescopes are added across the Earth, and maybe even in space. This will enable even better pictures of what the gas looks like close to a black hole. Over time, I think this will allow us to develop a better understanding of what is happening not only near the black holes that EHT can observe, but of all black holes across the Universe. This will impact a huge range of problems in astrophysics, from our understanding of how galaxies form and are affected by black holes to our understanding of the warped strong gravity very close to the event horizon of a black hole.

What articles can you recommend for readers who want to learn more about black hole research?

An older one, but famous, is “Black Hole Models for Active Galactic Nuclei,” by Martin J. Rees, in the 1984 Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Two recent ones on the role of black holes in galaxy formation are “The Coevolution of Galaxies and Supermassive Black Holes: Insights from Surveys of the Contemporary Universe,” by Timothy Heckman and Philip Best, and “Coevolution (Or Not) of Supermassive Black Holes and Host Galaxies,” by John Kormendy and Luis Ho, respectively in the 2014 and the 2013 volumes of the same journal.

We’ve made all three of these articles freely available for 30 days.

Annual Reviews appoints Rachel Ehrenberg as Associate Editor for Knowable Magazine

Nonprofit publisher Annual Reviews is pleased to announce that Rachel Ehrenberg has been appointed Associate Editor for Knowable Magazine.

Editor-in-Chief Eva Emerson welcomed her, saying:

“Rachel is a skilled reporter and writer, with a great track record producing accurate, high-quality science journalism. She has been a contributor to Knowable since its launch, writing some of our most notable articles, including What Makes a Tree a Tree? and a story on efforts to improve photosynthesis. We are thrilled to have her join our team.”

– Editor-in-Chief Eva Emerson

A native of Vermont, Rachel studied political science and botany at her home state’s school before obtaining a master’s in evolutionary biology from the University of Michigan. She then switched careers, graduating from the science writing program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Rachel was a staff writer at Science News for several years, where she reported on interdisciplinary sciences and chemistry and wrote the Culture Beaker blog. She was a 2013-2014 Knight Science Journalism fellow at MIT and then a freelance journalist focused on the intersection of plants, food and public health.

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Knowable Magazine explores the real-world significance of scholarly research, punctuated with forays into wonder and awe. Review articles written by leading scholars from the nearly 50 Annual Review journals serve as springboards for stories in the online-only magazine. Through in-depth features, explainers, articles, essays, interviews, infographics, slideshows and comics, Knowable Magazine bridges the gap between review articles written by invited experts and the information needs of a broader audience. This journalistic initiative receives generous support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Annual Reviews is a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and integrating knowledge for the progress of science and benefit of society. Please visit the Annual Reviews Press Center to sign up for media-only access to journal content.

Congratulations Xihong Lin on election to the US National Academy of Medicine

One of the founding members of the Editorial Committe of the Annual Review of Statistics and Its Application, Xihong Lin, has been elected to the US National Academy of Medicine.

Xihong Lin is the Henry Pickering Walcott Professor of Biostatistics, professor of statistics, and coordinating director of the Program in Quantitative Genomics at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

She was elected for her “contributions to statistics, genetics, epidemiology, and environmental health through influential and ingenious research in statistical methods and applications in whole-genome sequencing association studies, gene-environment, integrative analysis, and complex observational studies.”

Warmest congratulations from all of us at Annual Reviews.

Andrew W. Lo appointed to Annual Reviews Board of Directors

I am pleased to announce that Andrew W. Lo has joined the Board of Directors at Annual Reviews, effective January 1, 2019. Andrew is the Charles E. and Susan T. Harris Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, director of the MIT Laboratory for Financial Engineering, a principal investigator at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and an affiliated faculty member of the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He is also an external faculty member of the Santa Fe Institute and a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Andrew is the founding and current Co-Editor with Robert C. Merton of the Annual Review of Financial Economics. His current research spans evolutionary models of investor behavior and adaptive markets, systemic risk and financial regulation, quantitative models of financial markets, financial applications of machine-learning techniques and secure multi-party computation, and healthcare finance. His most recent book, Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought, won multiple awards.

Annual Reviews will benefit enormously from Andrew’s expertise in research, economics, and publishing over the coming years. He described his enthusiasm and support for the mission of Annual Reviews during his presentation at the 2008 Financial Crisis: A Ten-Year Review conference in November 2018, which you can watch in the following video.

Board Member, Sharon R. Long wins the Selman A. Waksman Award in Microbiology

The winner of the 2019 Selman A. Waksman Award, presented to recognize a major advance in the field of microbiology, is Annual Reviews Board MemberSharon R. Long, Stanford University.

Long is a pioneering molecular biologist whose research on the symbiosis between plants and nitrogen-fixing bacteria explains how some plants thrive without nitrogen fertilizer, making agriculture and natural environments more sustainable. 

In recognition of the award, we’ve made the PDF of Long’s 1989 Annual Reviews article, entitled Rhizobium Geneticsfreely available to download. Thank you, Sharon, for your ground-breaking research and for your many contributions to Annual Reviews.

Congratulations to Robert C. Kennicutt, Jr., winner of the 2019 NAS Award for Scientific Reviewing.

Congratulations Robert C. Kennicutt, Jr., Professor of Astronomy, University of Arizona; Executive Director of the Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy, Texas A&M, for winning the 2019 National Academy of Sciences Award for Scientific Reviewing, sponsored by us!

Kennicutt’s influential 1998 review paper, “Star Formation in Galaxies Along the Hubble Sequence,” has become one of the most-cited papers in astrophysics. The paper (PDF freely available to download here) synthesized a broad review of stellar formation, proving a critical intellectual foundation for the field, and also gave birth to two new fields of investigation: the characterization of tracers of star formation rates and the study of the connection between gas and star formation in galaxies.

Kennicutt is also known for the Kennicutt–Schmidt law, which defines a relation between the gas density and star formation rate in a given region, and for his role in constraining the value of the Hubble constant, the unit of measurement that astronomers and astrophysicists use to describe the expansion of the universe. He served as co-leader of the scientific team that definitively measured the expansion of the universe, and continues to research new methods to characterize the evolution of nearby and distant galaxies.   

The award will be presented on Sunday, April 28 at 2:00pm in Washington, D.C., at the NAS Annual Meeting. More information on all the NAS 2019 Award recipients can be found here.

David Zilberman, Co-Editor of the Annual Review of Resource Economics, Wins 2019 Wolf Prize

Congratulations to Annual Review of Resource Economics Co-Editor David Zilberman, of the University of California Berkeley, who won the 2019 Wolf Prize in Agriculture.

“Dr. Zilberman has incorporated biophysical features of agroeconomic systems to develop economic models and econometric decision-making frameworks to answer fundamental agricultural economic and policy questions in several important areas,” the announcement reads.

Read a few of his articles:
Adoption Versus Adaptation, with Emphasis on Climate Change,” in the 2012 Annual Review of Resource Economics.
Pest Management in Food Systems: An Economic Perspective,” in the 2012 Annual Review of Environment and Resources. 
Agricultural Biotechnology: Economics, Environment, Ethics, and the Future,” in the 2013 Annual Review of Environment and Resources.
An Alternative Paradigm for Food Production, Distribution, and Consumption: A Noneconomist’s Perspective,” in the 2015 Annual Review of Resource Economics.

Knowable Magazine wins Folio award; receives several honorary mentions

Good news from the Folio Awards: Knowable Magazine has won the Ozzie Award for Design, New Magazine > Consumer/Custom.

The digital-only publication also received honorary mentions in the following categories:

For the full list of winners, see: 


Knowable Magazine explores the real-world significance of scholarly research through a journalistic lens. Using plain English and providing necessary context, Knowable Magazine reports on the current state of play across a wide variety of fields, with occasional forays into wonder and awe.

This initiative receives support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

2018 MacArthur Fellows

Congratulations to the whole class of 2018 MacArthur Fellows, in particular, these four Annual Reviews contributing authors:

Analytical Chemist Livia S. Eberlin, of the University of Texas. Find her article for the 2013 Annual Review of Physical Chemistry here.

Health Economist Amy Finkelstein, of MIT. Find her articles for the 2010 and the 2018 Annual Review of Economics here.

Sociologist and Legal Scholar Rebecca Sandefur, of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Find her article for the 2008 Annual Review of Sociology here.

Neuroscientist Doris Tsao, of the California Institute of Technology. Find her article for the 2008 Annual Review of Neuroscience here.


2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Congratulations to our contributing author Frances H. Arnold, of the California Institute of Technology, who won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with George P. Smith, of the University of Missouri, and Gregory P. Winter, of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK. Dr. Arnold received half of it “for the directed evolution of enzymes” and Drs. Smith and Winter shared the other half “for the phage display of peptides and antibodies.”

We’ve made this article freely available to celebrate her achievement:

Synthetic Gene Circuits: Design with Directed Evolution, E.L. Haseltine and F.H. Arnold, 2007 Annual Review of Biophysics and Biomolecular Structure

Annual Reviews is a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and integrating knowledge for the progress of science and the benefit of society. To find out how we create our highly cited reviews and stimulate discussion about science, please watch this short video. To find out how we create our highly cited reviews and stimulate discussion about science, please watch this short video. Members of the media can visit our Press Center to sign up for journal access.