May 14, 2019

Seeing a black hole from space

Photo: University of Arizona

A couple of well-placed satellites in orbit above Earth could capture an incredibly detailed photo of the black hole at the center of our galaxy, scientists say in a new study in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Why it matters: If scientists can capture better photos of black holes, they might be able to push Einstein’s theory of general relativity closer to its limits.

Details: The proposed Event Horizon Imager would include 2 or 3 radio telescope satellites orbiting Earth that would be able to take photos of the Milky Way's black hole — called Sagittarius A* (pronounced "A-star").

  • These satellites wouldn't need to contend with the distortion caused by gases and other components of Earth's atmosphere, allowing scientists to capture clearer images.
  • "We would be able to take images with a resolution more than five times what is possible with the EHT," Freek Roelofs, co-author of the new study, said in a statement.

The backdrop: The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) recently delivered humanity’s first photo of a black hole — the one at the center of the M87 galaxy.

The intrigue: While the black hole imaged by the EHT looked pretty much exactly as expected, if researchers are able to get a more detailed view of one of these objects, they might see something they weren’t anticipating.

  • "If small deviations from Einstein's theory occur, we should be able to see them," study co-author Heino Falcke said in the statement.

Go deeper: What we learned from the first-ever photo of a black hole

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 5,453,784 — Total deaths: 345,886 — Total recoveries — 2,191,310Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 1,651,254 — Total deaths: 97,850 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: Top Boris Johnson aide defends himself after allegations he broke U.K. lockdown — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 42 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Joe Biden makes first public appearance in over two months

Photo: Oliver Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in over two months on Monday to honor Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a Delaware veterans park, AP reports.

Why it matters: Biden, the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee, has taken the unprecedented step of campaigning from his home during the coronavirus pandemic, ever since canceling a rally in Cleveland on March 10.

WHO temporarily suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns

Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization is temporarily pausing tests of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment in order to review safety concerns, the agency's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu said Monday.

Why it matters: The decision comes after a retrospective review published in The Lancet found that coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine or its related drug chloroquine were more likely to die or develop an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac death, compared to those who did nothing.