LONG the subject of science fiction stories and movies a black hole in outer space has finally been photographed.

Surrounded by a halo of bright gas the dark matter measures 40 billion km across, three million times the size of our planet.

Fortunately the black hole is 500 million trillion km away so we are unlikely to be sucked into its vortex.

It was photographed by a network of eight telescopes across the world and frankly is a rather blurred image giving little away.

The BBC said, "the edge of the dark circle at the centre is the point at which the gas enters the black hole, which is an object that has such a large gravitational pull, not even light can escape."

Scientists believe the bulk of the universe is made up of dark matter which cannot be seen while a black hole is a region of space from which nothing, not even light, can escape.

Scarily they consist of a huge amount of matter packed densely into a small area, giving it an immense gravitational pull.

If you get too close it is impossible to escape the gravitational effects of the black hole say scientists.

Prof Sheperd Doeleman of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, led a project to set up a network of eight linked telescopes to create the photograph.

A team of scientists pointed the networked telescopes towards Messier 87, a supergiant elliptical galaxy in the constellation Virgo to get the image and approximately 54 million light years away from Wiltshire.