Watch Event Horizon Telescope Announcement Live Online
Watch Event Horizon Telescope Announcement Live Online
At the Event Horizon: Astrophysicists Set to Reveal First Photos of Black Holes
09 April, 2019, 16:54
One of the most intriguing of spacetime environments, the region around a black hole - described as the "event horizon" - is also one of the most violent in the known universe, as matter inexorably hurtling into the dark maw is mangled to what scientists guess to be the subatomic level, while light itself is rendered permanently captive, leading to the celestial singularity's picturesque name.
The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is comprised of dozens of observatories that scan the area around the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, named Sagittarius A*, to piece together a silhouette of the black behemoth and provide humanity with its first-ever glimpse of a real black hole (as opposed to an artist's rendering).
While nothing can escape the gravitational vortex of a black hole - not even light - gas and radiation rage in a swirling eddy around the brink of the abyss. The Sagittarius A* is situated at the centre of our own Milky Way galaxy, possessing mass four million times the mass of our sun and located 26,000 light years from Earth.
In total, six press conferences will be held simultaneously around the globe. Scientists linked up telescopes around the world to create one, Earth-sized virtual telescope.
Much of the speculation says Wednesday's news will be about Sagittarius A*.
Although black holes have been depicted in film and television works such as the 2014 movie "Interstellar", their true appearances are still a mystery. Since then, telescopes in France and Greenland have been added to the network.
It is this point-of-no-return precipice, called the event horizon, that astronomers have tried to observe for the first time. Astronomers can see black holes as the material that accumulates at the edges gets very hot and appears very bright. Researchers have also designed computer simulations and models that compute the shape of a black hole's event horizon, which can be tested with the actual physical observation.
"What the black hole image could do for us, if we can get it, would be to take something that is the most extreme, the strangest prediction of general relativity, one of the great accomplishments of the human mind, [and] combine it with the most advanced electronics with a planetary scale collaboration with the most advanced statistics [and] new imaging techniques", Peter Galison, a professor at Harvard University and EHT collaborator, said at SXSW.
Wednesday's announcement is scheduled for 9 a.m. EDT.
The U.S. National Science Foundation, which will host the event in Washington D.C., said the announcement was a "groundbreaking result".
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