Science News

Telescope As Big As Earth To Photograph Black Hole


With the addition of the University of Chicago-built South Pole Telescope, astronomers across the globe are linking telescopes together in order to expand the capabilities of the, virtual, event horizon telescope in the hopes of capturing the ‘point of no return’ of the supermassive black hole located at the center of our galaxy.

According to the UChicago News, the Event Horizon Telescope is an array of radio telescopes connected using a technique known as Very Long Baseline Interferometry. Larger telescopes can make sharper observations, and interferometry allows multiple telescopes to act like a single telescope as large as the separation, or “baseline,” between them. Prof. John Carlstrom, of UChicago, who leads the collaboration said, “We are thrilled that the South Pole Telescope is part of the EHT.”

We are thrilled that the South Pole Telescope is part of the EHT. The science, which addresses fundamental questions of space and time, is as exciting to us as peering back to the beginning of the universe.

If the theory of general relativity is correct (and we have no reason to doubt it) the black hole itself will be invisible because not even light can escape its immense gravity, a dark silhouette may appear as matter crosses the Event Horizon.

Acording to The Scientific American, the prime EHT target is the Milky Way’s black hole, known as Sagittarius A* (pronounced “A-star”). Even though it is 4 million times more massive than the sun, it is tiny to the eyes of astronomers. Because it is smaller than Mercury’s orbit around the sun, yet almost 26,000 light-years away, studying its event horizon in detail is equivalent to standing in California and reading the date on a penny in New York.

The existence of black holes, first postulated by Albert Einstein, has since been supported by decades’ worth of observations. Most, if not all galaxies, are now believed to have a supermassive black hole at their center, and smaller ones formed from dying stars should be scattered among their stars. The Milky Way is known to be home to about 25 smallish black holes, ranging from five to 10 times the sun’s mass. But never has it been possible to directly observe and image one of these cosmic oddities.

In other related black hole news scientists observe the merging of two black holes.

Do you think the photograph will capture?

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