Thursday, 25 April, 2019

Taiwanese researchers help take first black hole image

The shadow of a black hole seen here is the closest we can come to an image of the black hole itself a completely dark object from which light cannot escape See the first real pictures of a black hole revealed live
Lora Ball | 11 April, 2019, 22:14

But the new image doesn't reveal the first light humans have detected from a black hole.

News conferences were held in Washington, Brussels, Santiago, Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo to disclose a "groundbreaking result" from the Event Horizon Telescope project, begun in 2012 to directly observe a black hole using a global network of telescopes and worldwide cooperation of more than 200 researchers. Hopefully, more telescopes will be added to the EHT's array soon, to get ever clearer images of these fascinating objects. "We have seen and taken a picture of a black hole", announced Sheperd Doeleman of Harvard, leader of the project.

The scientists said Einstein's theory correctly predicted that the shape of the shadow would be nearly a ideal circle.

Two hundred researchers in Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Europe, North and South America labored for two years to make this discovery, while hundreds more made the upgrades to each of the observatories necessary to achieve the required angular resolution (the precision necessary to detect an object so far away with the degree of accuracy required).

BNOW: The black hole actually turns out to look like scientists predicted.

To complement the EHT measurements, NASA's Chandra, NuSTAR and Swift space telescopes participated in the observing campaign. The eight radio telescopes combined to produce a magnification equivalent to reading text on a phone in NY from a sidewalk in Paris, according to MIT. Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al.

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The photo of the black hole at the centre of Messier 87, or M87, a massive galaxy in the relatively nearby Virgo galaxy cluster, shows a glowing ring of red, yellow and white surrounding a dark centre. In this way, the physicists were able to tease out the black hole's signal from lots of noise. The scientists looked for a ring of light - super-heated disrupted matter and radiation circling at tremendous speed at the edge of the event horizon - around a region of darkness representing the actual black hole. The mystique of black holes in the community is very substantial. "We've been getting closer and closer with better technology", she added.

Supermassive black holes are situated at the center of most galaxies, including ours, and are so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape their gravitational pull. The closer the material is to the black hole, the faster it circles around and the hotter and brighter it becomes.

Yet many on Twitter couldn't help but see their favorite ring-shaped food in the image. This is known as the black hole's shadow or silhouette. The same phenomenon occurs with the event horizon itself.

"This is going to open up a whole set of tests of general relativity that have never been possible up until now", says astrophysicist Christopher Impey, the author of the 2018 book "Einstein's Monsters: The Life and Times of Black Holes".

Even though the data was first gathered in 2017, it required a huge effort to produce the image released on Wednesday. Three years ago, they essentially heard the sound of two smaller black holes crashing together to form a gravitational wave.

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