Earth-Sized Telescope Set To Take First Images Of A Black Hole [Video]

By , UniversityHerald Reporter

Astronomers plan to coordinate different observatories all over the world to turn them into one colossal lens with one purpose: to capture the first images of a black hole. The project is dubbed as the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) which started on April 5 and will last until April 14.

EHT will feature radio astronomers pointing their telescopes at the thin edge of a super huge black hole found at the center of our galaxy. For the record, that "thin edge" is known as the event horizon or the "point of no return". It is so powerful than even light cannot penetrate through it.

Well, the closest humans have come to "seeing" a black hole was when the LIGO observatory detected signs of it last year. However, they were just "time-warping gravitational waves" radiating from a collision some 1.3 billion years ago. Until now, no concrete image has been captured.

For one, black holes are difficult to spot because even the big ones appear tiny in the center of gigantic galaxies. Also, black holes are black and the universe is black, which makes the former almost invisible. Dimitrios Psaltis, an astrophysicist at the University of Arizona, said in previous media interviews that the largest dark circle ever discovered is the one in the middle of the Milky Way. Yet, the process of taking a picture of it is like snapping a shot of a CD on the surface of the moon.

Per IFL Science, the subject of EHT lies about 26,000 light-years away from Earth. It is in the center of our own galaxy, Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), and measures for about 30 times bigger than the sun. That is actually small, like a grape on the surface of the moon. If successful, the first photos will appear sometime in 2018.

For his part, Gopal Narayanan of the University of Massachusetts Amherst said that EHT will open doors to understanding black holes in a way that "we have never understood before." The UMass Amherst reported that the Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT) of the University of Massachusetts and Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Astrofisica, Optica y Electronica is the largest and most expensive single-aperture (millimeter-wavelength) telescope on Earth. Telescopes situated in Hawaii, Arizona, Chile, Spain, and the South Pole would complement the LMT.

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