Space – Final Frontier finally reached…Black Holes under surveillance
Space – The Event Horizon Telescope is a project to create a large telescope array consisting of a global network of radio telescopes and combining data from several very-long-baseline interferometry stations around the Earth.
Scientists believe they are on the verge of obtaining the first ever picture of a black hole. They have built an Earth-sized “virtual telescope” by linking a large array of radio receivers – from the South Pole, to Hawaii, to the Americas and Europe. There is optimism that observations to be conducted during 5-14 April could finally deliver the long-sought prize. In the sights of the so-called “Event Horizon Telescope” will be the monster black hole at the center of our galaxy.
Super-massive black holes lurk at the center of all galaxies and contain millions or even billions of times the mass of our Sun. These space-bending behemoths are so massive that nothing, not even light, can escape their gravitational influence. Understanding how a black hole devours matter, powers jets of particles and energy, and distorts space and time are leading challenges in astronomy and physics.
The black hole at the center of the Milky Way is a 4 million solar mass giant located approximately 26,000 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius. It is shrouded from optical telescopes by dense clouds of dust and gas, which is why observatories like ALMA, which operate at the longer millimeter and sub-millimeter wavelengths, are essential to study its properties. Calculations indicate a resolution of 50 micro-arc seconds (approximately 2,000 times finer than the Hubble Space Telescope) is needed to image the shadow effect. That’s equivalent to reading the date on a quarter at the distance from New York to Los Angeles. This amazing high-resolution imaging is within the reach of the ALMA-enabled Event Horizon Telescope.