European Astrophysicists Want to Capture the World's First Image of a Black Hole

#Space

Fri, Dec 20th, 2013 12:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to Space, the European Research Council has granted 14 million Euros to the BlackHoleCam team, with the goal of peering "at the supermassive black hole at the core of our Milky Way galaxy and image its event horizon — the theorized boundary beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape."

BlackHoleCam will use a technique called Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) to study the Milky Way's central black hole, which is about 4 million times more massive than the sun. In VLBI, multiple radiotelescopes around the world focus on an object, and a supercomputer then synthesizes and integrates their various observations. This method can, in effect, create a virtual telescope the size of the entire Earth.

BlackHoleCam won't be able to image the black hole itself, but researchers think they can get a look at the event horizon, a feature predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity.

Gas sucked in by black holes' immense gravitational pull produces strong radio emissions before it disappears. The event horizon should betray its presence by casting a dark shadow on those bright emissions, researchers said.

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