Astronomers Hoping to Obtain Images of an Event Horizon.

Artists Impression of a Black Hole
Credit: Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

Scientists from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) are excited at the prospect of obtaining the first ever image of a black hole’s event horizon. Last’s year’s detection of gravitational waves provided more evidence that black hole’s exist, though observing one directly has not yet been possible, so will the EHT be successful in changing this?

The EHT, led by scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will be linking an array of radio receivers from all over the world, to create a ‘virtual telescope’ approximately the size of the Earth! This ‘virtual telescope’ will then be pointed at the supermassive black hole in the centre of our galaxy (known as Sagittarius A*) and begin taking observations between 5th-14th April and will hope to bring the black hole’s event horizon into focus.The event horizon is the boundary around a black hole, inside which light cannot escape.

Scientists have a good idea about what such an image should show. The expectation, based on Einstein’s work, is that of a bright ring of light surrounding a dark area. However, should any obtained image show something different to this, it could well raise questions over our very understanding of gravity.

One thing is certain, however, with the advances in technology we are currently enjoying, exciting times lay ahead in the field of astronomy.