On April 10th 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration will present its first results in multiple simultaneous press conferences around the world, and many satellite events organized by its stakeholder and affiliated institutions. Press conferences will be held simultaneously in Brussels (in English), Lyngby (in Danish), Santiago (in Spanish), Shanghai (in Mandarin), Tokyo (in Japanese), Taipei (in Mandarin), and Washington D.C. (in English), starting at 13:00 UTC.
The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) — a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration — was designed to capture images of a black hole. In coordinated press conferences across the globe, EHT researchers revealed that they succeeded, unveiling the first direct visual evidence of the supermassive black hole in the centre of Messier 87 and its shadow. In this image of M87* taken on 11 April 2017 (a representative example of the images collected in a global 2017 EHT campaign), the shadow of a black hole is the closest we can come to an image of the black hole itself, a completely dark object from which light cannot escape.
The black hole’s boundary — the event horizon from which the EHT takes its name — is around 2.5 times smaller than the shadow it casts and measures just under 40 billion km across. While this may sound large, this ring is only about 40 microarcseconds across — equivalent to measuring the length of a credit card on the surface of the Moon. Although the telescopes making up the EHT are not physically connected, they are able to synchronize their recorded data with atomic clocks — hydrogen masers — which precisely time their observations. These observations were collected at a wavelength of 1.3 mm in the 2017 campaign. Each telescope of the EHT produced enormous amounts of data – roughly 350 terabytes per day – which was stored on high-performance helium-filled hard drives.
These data were flown to highly specialised supercomputers — known as correlators — at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy and MIT Haystack Observatory to be combined. They were then painstakingly converted into an image using novel computational tools developed by the collaboration. This image is the average of three different imaging methods after convolving each with a circular Gaussian kernel to give matched resolutions. The image is shown in units of brightness temperature, , where S is the flux density, λ is the observing wavelength, is the Boltzmann constant, and Ω is the solid angle of the resolution element.
Brussels: European Comission Youtube Channel
Santiago: ALMA website
Washngton: US National Science Foundation Live Stream