Astronomers Turns On A Planet-Sized Telescope To Capture First Real Images Of Black Hole

Posted: Apr 6 2017, 4:57am CDT | by , Updated: Apr 6 2017, 5:04am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Astronomers Turns on a Planet-Sized Telescope to Capture First Real Images of Black Hole
An artist's view of a binary black hole. Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)

By combining data collected from many radio telescopes around the globe, researches are hoping to produce the first ever images of black hole

The collaborative effort to capture first ever real image of a black hole has just begun.

On Wednesday, researchers from eight locations around the world have pointed their radio telescopes in the direction of the center of Milky Way galaxy where a massive black hole is lurking. Telescopes will continue observing black hole from April 5 through April 14.

The project is like turning the Earth into one giant telescope by coordinating observations from telescopes around the world and these telescopes are collectively known as Event Horizon Telescope. By combining the signals detected by these ground-based radio telescopes, researchers will stitch together the first image of a black hole.

“If you create an image at a resolution you’ve never had before, you might see things that you’ve never even thought of.” Stefan Gillessen at the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Germany said.

The black hole, named Sagittarius A* is approximately 26,000 light-years from Earth and is believed to be four million times more massive than our sun. This is the closest such object to Earth.

Black holes are dark and massive objects that have not been observed directly as nothing, not even light cannot reflect or escape from them. But black holes actually exist. Researchers have proven the existence of black holes by detecting the effect of its gravity on matter nearby.

Black holes cannot be photographed, of course. The solution adopted by the Event Horizon Telescope project is to use radio waves and to coordinate measurements performed by radio telescopes at widely divergent locations.

"We hope to see the un-seeable,” said Shepard Doeleman, director of this Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). "We want to see something that by its very nature tries to do everything it can not to be seen. It's the ultimate cloaking device.”

With these first images, researchers will try to determine the mass of a black hole and to test many other theories related to it. Black holes are the most mysterious object in cosmos. Even Albert Einstein argued vigorously that black holes were incompatible with reality, though it was his theory of general relativity that helped predict these objects more than 100 years ago.

“These are the observations that will help us to sort through all the wild theories about black holes. And there are many wild theories,” said astronomy research professor Gopal Narayanan at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “With data from this project, we will understand things about black holes that we have never understood before.”

The actual images will take several months for processing, which means we should not expect to see an image released to the press until next year.

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