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The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration — a group of 9 radio observatories around the globe that together effectively create an Earth-sized telescope — is just getting started after revealing the stunning first-ever photo of a black hole on April 10.

What's next: The international collaboration, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, plans to add two more telescopes to the mix by 2020, and scientists hope to one day launch a space-based observatory as well.

  • This would cut out atmospheric interference and give them a better view of these extreme phenomena.
  • To get a clear view of the sky, the current EHT telescopes are in remote locales like the South Pole, Greenland and the Atacama Desert of Chile.

The big picture: More telescopes around the world could also mean that researchers can create black hole photos more quickly (the photo released on April 10 was derived from observations made in 2017). That added speed could help scientists glimpse the black hole in the center of the Milky Way, named Sagittarius A*.

"If you make it quickly, then you can see changes, and that's particularly important for Sag A*, which changes on 20- or 30-minute time scales."
— EHT scientist Dan Marrone told Axios

The intrigue: Future images showing more detail could test the limits of Einstein's predictions.

  • The first black hole photo appeared to match predictions made by general relativity, showing the shadow of a black hole illuminated by superheated gases on the edge of the object's event horizon — the area near the black hole known as the "point of no return," where gravity is so great that nothing can escape.

What to watch: The EHT isn’t the only black hole hunter gearing up for a big year. LIGO — a network of observatories designed to detect ripples in the fabric of space and time created by extreme collisions between black holes and neutron stars — has just begun its next observing campaign after a series of upgrades that increased its sensitivity by 40%.

  • With both observatories up and running, scientists will soon get a more complete picture of these extreme and fundamental objects than ever before.

Go deeper: Where black hole research goes next

Go deeper

UN poll: Most see climate change as global emergency amid pandemic

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) fronts a Fridays For Future protest at the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm in September. Photo: Jonathan Nacksrtrand/AFP via Getty Images

64% of people from around the world say climate change is a global emergency, a United Nations poll published Wednesday finds.

Why it matters: It's biggest global survey on climate change ever conducted, with some 1.2 million participants from 50 countries — including the U.S. where 65% of those surveyed view climate change as an emergency.

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.