The First Real Image Of A Black Hole May Be Captured Soon

Posted: Jun 6 2016, 10:38pm CDT | by , Updated: Jun 7 2016, 9:30pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


The First Real Image of a Black Hole May be Captured Soon

MIT researchers have developed a new algorithm that may help construct real images of black holes.

You may have heard a lot of things about black holes lying in the centers of giant galaxies. Black holes are strange objects that are extremely bright and exhibit strong gravitational effects. Computer-generated images of black holes have been released often but humans have never actually seen a black hole with their own eyes.

Now, a team of MIT researchers have developed a new algorithm that could help astronomers capture the real images of black holes.

To see a black hole from Earth would require a telescope with a 10,000 kilometer diameter, which is virtually impossible to create because it will be roughly the size of the entire Earth. So, researchers will stitch together data collected from radio telescopes scattered around the world. They are essentially planning to turn the entire planet in to a larger radio telescope dish. 

“A black hole is very, very far away and very compact. (Taking a picture of the black hole in the center of the Milky Way galaxy) is equivalent to taking an image of a grapefruit on the moon,” said Katie Bouman who led the development of new algorithm.

“Radio wavelengths come with a lot of advantages. Just like how radio frequencies will go through the walls, they pierce through galactic dust. We would never be able to see into the center of our galaxy in visible wavelengths because there is too much stuff in between.”

The solution proposed by MIT’s Event Horizon Telescope project is to coordinate measurements taken from the radio telescopes at widely divergent locations and to create an image. Six observatories have already joined in and many more are likely to follow.

The new algorithm, called CHIRP, for Continuous High-resolution Image Reconstruction using Patch priors, is based on the technique called interferometry which combines atmospheric signals detected by different telescopes and interferes them with each other.

Usually those signals will reach to any two telescopes at slightly different times due to atmospheric noise but with the help of multiple telescopes the problem of extra delays could be overcome and an image can be assembled that fits both the extracting visual information and meets certain expectations.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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