The Event Horizon Telescope: Imaging a Black Hole Through Global Collaboration

Nov 09, 2020 - 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm
Shep Doeleman (Center for Astrophysics and the Founding Director of the Event Horizon Telescope) via zoom

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Computational Health Informatics Program | Landmark Ideas Series

What can medicine learn about collaboration and data sharing from one of the most successful team science projects of all time--creating a telescope the diameter of the earth to snap the first image of the black hole at the center of our galaxy?

Black holes are cosmic objects so massive and dense that their gravity forms an event horizon: a region of spacetime from which nothing, not even light, can escape. Einstein's theories predict that a distant observer should see a ring of light encircling the black hole, which forms when radiation emitted by infalling hot gas is lensed by the extreme gravity. The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is a global array of radio dishes that forms an Earth-sized virtual telescope, which can resolve the nearest supermassive black holes where this ring feature may be measured. On April 10th, 2019, the EHT project reported success: we have imaged a black hole and have seen the predicted strong gravitational lensing that confirms the theory of General Relativity at the boundary of a black hole.  This talk will describe the project, and the global collaborative approach that produced these first results, as well as future directions that will enable real-time black hole movies.

Shep Doeleman, PhD is an Astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics and the Founding Director of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, a synchronized global array of radio observatories designed to examine the nature of black holes. Dr. Doeleman led the international team of researchers that produced the first directly observed image of a black hole. Dr. Doeleman was awarded the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics as the Founding Director of the EHT Collaboration for the first image of a supermassive black hole. Dr. Doeleman was named one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2019 by Time magazine.

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