May 18, 2022
It takes an Earth-sized telescope to observe the outlines of a black hole;  Learn how to register |  the topic

It takes an Earth-sized telescope to observe the outlines of a black hole; Learn how to register | the topic

The world met on Thursday (12). The first record of bracket A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. It is a cosmic abyss that absorbs everything that approaches it, even the light.

The image was taken by Event Horizon Telescope, a project of 11 radio observatories distributed in 8 different locations around the world.

The Milky Way and the location of the central black hole as seen by the ALMA telescope. – Photo: ESO/José Francisco Salgado (@josefrancisco.org), EHT Collaboration

Without this international cooperation, an Earth-sized telescope would be needed to observe the A* arc plot. This is explained by astrophysicist Taisa Storchi Bergman, of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. The scientist became internationally known when she published a study that provided evidence for the existence of a supermassive black hole.

“In space, when you want to observe a small target, the smaller the target, the larger the antenna or telescope must be. To observe an orange on the moon — the angular diameter equivalent to the black hole’s event horizon — you need an Earth-sized antenna.”

The Thais also explain why the record from 11 observatories represents a scientific advance to be celebrated that goes beyond the possibility of observing a black hole.

“This technology is very complex. It involves a lot of computational challenges and all these observatories have to monitor the same target at the same time and then collect all the signals. This is the big technological challenge that has just been accomplished today.”