Sep 10, 2019

Event Horizon Telescope hopes to produce first-ever moving image of a black hole

Miriam Kramer, author of Space

The first-ever photo of a black hole. Photo: EHT Collaboration

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration hopes to produce the first-ever moving image of a black hole by the end of the 2020s.

Why it matters: Still images of black holes can give scientists a lot of information about the mysterious and fundamental objects. But videos can help them drill into the details of how black holes consume matter and affect the galaxies they find themselves within, EHT project director Shep Doeleman said.

  • Black hole videos could help astrophysicists push the bounds of physics as we know it, potentially finding new tests for general relativity.

Background: The EHT released its first image of a black hole in April. That image — which reveals the supermassive black hole in the center of the galaxy M87, about 54 million light-years away — was the result of more than 10 years of planning and work.

  • The EHT works by using a group of radio observatories that coordinate their observations over the course of a night, taking meticulous care to look at the same part of the sky.

What’s next: The EHT is now working on adding 2 more telescopes to its collaboration of radio observatories by next year, and the scientists behind the project plan to find a way to image Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the center of our galaxy.

  • Doeleman said that the team is also hoping to image the magnetic fields around black holes to learn more about their structures and basic natures.
  • "That is going to be a whole new ball game, as they say. That's going to allow us to really study how black holes eat and how they digest all the matter that's funneling into them," Doeleman told Axios in an interview.

The EHT collaboration won a $3 million Breakthrough Prize last week for its work to image a black hole for the first time.

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