This paper analyzes the experiment presented in 2019 by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration that unveiled the first image of the supermassive black hole at the center of galaxy M87. The intended aim of the paper is to assess whether the EHT Collaboration has made an “inference to the best explanation” (IBE) to conclude that the data effectively confirm the hypothesis that the object at the center of M87 is in fact a supermassive Kerr rotating black hole. I demonstrate that the EHT Collaboration has applied an IBE. It is shown that the hypothesis that at the center of M87 there is a supermassive Kerr rotating black hole was already the best explanation at the time in which the 2017 EHT experiment was conducted. My analysis is intertwined with considerations on realist and empiricist interpretations of IBE, which are used to assess whether the conclusion that the object at the center of M87 is a Kerr rotating black hole implies holding a realist commitment with respect to such object.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work is supported by ERC advanced grant number 834735 . I would like to thank Gil Kalai for helping with this research project. I am grateful to the anonymous referees of this journal for their useful suggestions and I thank James Ladyman for his insightful comments.
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd
- Black hole image
- Event horizon telescope
- General relativity
- Inference to the best explanation
- Philosophy of experimentation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- History and Philosophy of Science