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Event Horizon Snapshot Due In 2017

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Nine radio telescopes have been positioned around the globe. They’re set to take the first ever picture of a black hole’s event horizon in 2017. 

The Event Horizon Telescope is a project that is nearly ready. It has completed all of its technical preparations and all of its extensive calculations. The telescope is ready to focus on Sagittarius A and the black hole at the Milky Way’s center.

This project is believed to be a momentous achievement for telescopic advancement in the field of deep space exploration. This be the first time we have ever seen into a black hole – and the first time new wavelengths have been used to examine stellar objects from our planet.

Seeing Into A Black Hole Is Not Easy

Getting this shot is not easy. At the heart of our Milky Way galaxy lies a supermassive black hole; it’s event horizon is 24 million km across – which is roughly 17 times bigger than our sun. At a distance of 25,000 light years away observing this object becomes quite a challenge – to put this into the perspective of earth viewing, this black hole would take up just as much of the sky as a CD would if it were sitting on the moon.

Not only does the distance pose a challenge, but so to does matter in the surrounding region.  The event horizon is filed with rolling clouds of dust and energy that make it difficult for astronomers to peer into the black hole, to solve this problem scientists had to choose specific wavelengths of light to examine the phenomena.

They had to choose between millions of simulations and ultimately settled on a wavelength of 1.3mm.

The Event Horizon

So what will we actually see?

It’s predicted that the item will appear like  “crescent” due to glowing gas spinning around the black hole. It is believed that the object will not look like a “ring” due to the way matter travels through the event horizon; the matter moving towards earth will look much brighter (Doppler effect) and the matter traveling into the black hole should appear much darker – building the theorized crescent model.

Einstein believed that masses as large as black holes could have the ability to bend space time, this very bend is believed to be one of the many factors producing the crescent shape. The curvature builds a shadow that can be calculated mathematically and that shadow should match what is predicted by general relativity.

Astronomers tend to rely on general relativity quite often, and it has proven successful. But this is the first time the theory will be tested on scale as immense as the event horizon. Here’s looking at you, Einstein. 

Beyond our Milky Way, the EHT team already has plans to advance its studies by looking at the galaxy Messier 87. Its own black hole is believed to be much more massive and it known for blasting an immense jet of plasma into outer space.

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