Scientists and sci-fi fanatics have imagined for decades what a real black hole might look like: Is it an awe-inspiring mass of swirling particles? Or is it a sinister, hellish void?

For many social media users, the first-ever image of a black hole released Wednesday actually looked like a blurry doughnut.

“Looks like an out-of-focus @krispykreme,” wrote one Twitter user.

To some others, the hazy orange ring recalled the “Eye of Sauron,” a fiery symbol of the omnipotent villain in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The New York Times seemed to prefer this link, writing that the comparison was “a reminder yet again of the power and malevolence of nature. It is a smoke ring framing a one-way portal to eternity.”

Officially, the scientists with the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration described the image as simply a “ring-like structure with a dark central region.” In fact, the photo depicts a ring of light bending from the “intense gravity around a black hole.”

Various media outlets have described the black hole as a “ring of fire,” a “flame-orange halo” and a “fuzzy doughnut-shaped ring of gas and dust.” But it has also been described in far more unscientific ways since its release.

Blurred visions

Many observers were distracted by the apparent blurriness of the image, which was actually stitched together based on data from eight telescopes and coloured orange by scientists “because the light is so hot.” But that wasn’t HD enough for some.

Technology website CNET likened the black hole image to an “out-of-focus campfire.”

“Huh, who would have guessed a black hole looks like I'm squinting at an Arby's sign?” wrote one Twitter user. “Looks like it was taken from an android camera,” joked a man. “This black hole looks like a blurred image of a heated cigarette lighter,” reacted another user.

Food and more food

Social media users had more than doughnuts on the brain when looking at the photo. Some tweeted that the image reminded them of SpaghettiOs, the brand of canned circular pasta. The orangey ring looked like the Werther’s Original caramel hard candies to at least one other user.

Incomplete design

“The black hole looks like an unfinished poster for The Sixth Sense,” wrote one user, referring to the 1999 supernatural horror film.

Animal eyes

Less menacing than the Eye of Sauron, others have compared the black hole to the eye of a cat, or a goldfish.