Thu. Apr 25th, 2019

First image of a black hole: The Horizon of Events Telescope has managed to capture it - The Province

Primera imagen de un agujero negro.


The first image of a black hole, a colossal one in the center of the distant galaxy Mesier 87 (55 million light years from Earth), has been obtained by the EHT project (Event Horizon Telescope) has obtained the first image of a black hole,

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"Many of the characteristics of the observed image coincide with our theoretical understanding surprisingly well," scientists have admitted in the global presentation of this milestone.

The first image of a black hole shows a bright ring formed when light is bent into intense gravity around this phenomenon, which is 6,500 million times more massive than the Sun, according to the calculations made from the observation.

This long-sought image provides the strongest evidence to date of the existence of supermassive black holes and opens a new window to the study of black holes, their horizons of events and gravity, according to the EHT project.

"We have taken the first image of a black hole," proclaimed EHT project director Sheperd S. Doeleman of the Center for Astrophysics Harvard Smithsonian. Black holes are extraordinary cosmic objects with huge masses but extremely compact sizes. The presence of these objects affects their surroundings in an extreme way, deforming the space-time and overheating any surrounding material.

"If we are immersed in a bright region, like a sparkling gas disk, we expect a black hole to create a dark region similar to a shadow, something predicted by Einstein's general relativity that we have never seen before," explained the president of the Council. EHT scientist, Heino Falcke, from Radboud University, The Netherlands. "This shadow, caused by the gravitational tilt and the capture of light by the event horizon, reveals a lot about the nature of these fascinating objects and allowed us to measure the enormous mass of the black hole of M87".

Multiple methods of calibration and imaging have revealed a ring-shaped structure with a dark central region, the shadow of the black hole, that persisted during multiple independent observations of EHT.

"Once we were sure we had photographed the shadow, we could compare our observations with the extensive computer models that include the physics of warped space, superheated matter and strong magnetic fields." Many of the characteristics of the observed image coincide with our theoretical understanding surprisingly well, "comments Paul TP Ho, member of the EHT Board and director of the East Asian Observatory. "This makes us rely on the interpretation of our observations, including our estimate of the black hole mass."


This has been the presentation of the first image of a black hole.

The last phase of the evolution of some stars

The black holes, imagined in the early twentieth century by the physicist Albert Einstein and theorized by his colleague Stephen Hawking in the seventies from the radiation they emit, are a massive concentration of compressed matter in a small area that generates a gravitational field that engulfs everything around him, including light.

That mysterious astrophysical phenomenon assumes the last phase in the evolution of a type of huge stars that are at least 10 times larger than the Sun. When a "red giant" it approaches death, folds back on itself and concentrates its mass on a very small surface, which is known as "white dwarf".

If this process of extreme gravity continues, it becomes a black hole, delimited by what is known as "event horizon", which is the point of no return from which nothing that surpasses that boundary can escape its attraction of the hole, and in whose neighborhoods agglomerations of gas revolve approximately in a circular orbit.

"Astronomy is something that is not done only from your office. Sometimes you have to embark on an expedition. And two years ago some scientists embarked on an expedition to the most remote place, "summed up in the presentation the Spanish Eduardo Ros, coordinator of the Department of Radio Astronomy / Interferometry of very long base of the Max Planck Institute in Bonn (Germany).

A terrestrial virtual telescope

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a planetary-scale set of eight terrestrial radio telescopes forged through international collaboration, was designed to capture black hole images. These first results have been published in a series of six articles published in a special issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Zooming in to the Heart of Messier 87 desde ALMA Observatory on Vimeo.

The EHT connects telescopes around the world to form a virtual telescope the size of the Earth with an unprecedented sensitivity and resolution. The EHT is the result of years of international collaboration, and offers scientists a new way of studying the most extreme objects in the Universe predicted by Einstein's general relativity during the centenary of the historical experiment that confirmed the theory for the first time.

Creating the EHT required updating and connecting a worldwide network of eight pre-existing telescopes. These locations included volcanoes in Hawaii and Mexico, mountains in Arizona and the Spanish Sierra Nevada, the Atacama Desert of Chile, Greenland and Antarctica.

The EHT observations use a technique called very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) that synchronizes the installations of telescopes around the world and exploits the rotation of our planet to form a huge telescope the size of the Earth observing a wavelength of 1.3 mm. VLBI allows the EHT to achieve an angular resolution of 20 microarcsecondsenough to read a newspaper in New York from a cafe on the sidewalk in Paris.

The telescopes that contributed to this result were ALMA, APEX, the 30-meter IRAM telescope, the James Clerk Maxwell telescope, the Alfonso Serrano Large Millimeter Telescope, the Submillimeter Array, the Submillimeter Telescope, and the South Pole Telescope.

The raw data petabytes of the telescopes were combined by highly specialized supercomputers organized by the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy and the MIT Haystack Observatory.

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