Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The first EVER image of a black hole's event

Scientists unveil groundbreaking observations from global virtual telescope that has now 'seen what we thought was unseeable'

Scientists have lifted the veil on the first images ever captured of a black hole’s event horizon. 
In a highly-anticipated string of press conferences held simultaneously around the world on Wednesday, the team behind the Event Horizon Telescope revealed the findings from their first run of observations.
Using a ‘virtual telescope’ built from eight radio observatories positioned at different points on the globe, the international team has spent the last few years probing Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way, and another target called M87 in the Virgo cluster of galaxies.  
While black holes are invisible by nature, the ultra-hot material swirling in their midst forms a ring of light around the perimeter that reveals the mouth of the object itself based on its silhouette. This boundary is known as the event horizon.
'We have seen what we thought was unseeable,' said EHT Director Sheperd Doeleman as he introduced the glowing orange ring that is our first direct look at a black hole.  
The breakthrough adds major support for Einstein’s theory of General Relativity and could help to answer longstanding questions on black hole jets, in which the objects occasionally spew out material.

The observations from the Event Horizon Telescope can now be counted be among of the most significant scientific breakthroughs of the century.
The event focused on the results from the first full run of the observatory network, which was conducted in 2017 through the collaboration of scientists operating eight radio observatories. 
While the images might seem unremarkable to some, these findings 'will transform and enhance our understanding of black holes,' said National Science Foundation Director France Cordova as she kicked off the live event in Washington DC.
Developing the technology to get the image was a 'Herculean task' in itself the researchers said; no single telescope is powerful enough to image a black hole in such detail on its own. 
But, through international collaboration and an array of instruments, the team built a virtual telescope essentially as large as Earth itself, allowing them to peer into the center of the Virgo A galaxy to see its black hole, M87.
The data required more than 'half a ton of hard drives,' according to Dan Marrone, Associate Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona.  
The eight telescopes collected 5 petabytes of data - or the 'equivalent of 5,000 years of mp3s,' or 'a lifetime of selfies for 40,000 people.'  
'We now have visual evidence for a black hole,' Doeleman said. 'We now know that a black hole exists at the center of M87. Material moving around the black hole is moving at light speeds.
'We now have an entirely new way of discovering black holes that we’ve never had before, and like all new discoveries this is just the beginning.'

The effort has been working for years to capture a silhouette of a black hole, also commonly referred to as the black hole’s shadow.
'Nature has conspired to let us see something that we thought was invisible,' Doeleman said. 'This is a long sought goal for us, and we hope that you’ll be inspired by it too.' 
The data will put Einstein’s theory to what could be its most rigorous test yet; the size and shape of the observed black hole can all be predicted by the General Relativity equations, which posits it to be roughly circular.
Observing a distant, invisible object, however, is just as complicated as it sounds, and scientists have never yet directly imaged a black hole.
The international collaboration that makes up the Event Horizon Telescope effort includes observatories in the South Pole, Europe, South America, Africa, North America, and Australia – all of which must be pointed directly at the object to measure the surrounding activity.
Even with this information, the scientists say they’ll still be left with gaps to fill.
‘The light we collect gives us some indication of the structure of the black hole,’ the ETH team explains.
‘However, since we are only collecting light at a few telescope locations, we are still missing some information about the black hole’s image.
‘The imaging algorithms we develop fill in the gaps of data we are missing in order to reconstruct a picture of the black hole.’ 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fake news, that's Trump's latest colonoscopy and it's very inflamed.