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Taiwan-participated global project to reveal first black hole image

2019/04/09 21:13:38

Image taken from Pixabay

Taipei, April 9 (CNA) An international astronomical project in which Taiwan has been participating will release the world's first supermassive black hole image Wednesday, Academia Sinica said Tuesday.

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) observing campaign, comprising 13 research units from around the world, including Academia Sinica, will release the image, said Chou Mei-yin (周美吟), a scientist for the institution's education and public outreach.

The findings of the EHT, a project to create a large telescope array consisting of a global network of radio telescopes, will be groundbreaking because there has never been visual footage of black holes, Chou said.

The image was created after scientists used radio waves to synchronize radio telescopes all over the world, she said.

One of EHT's major telescope projects is the Greenland Telescope, led by Academia Sinica in collaboration with the United States' Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

The Greenland Telescope is the northernmost radio dish in the EHT, allowing for triangulation with its counterparts in Hawaii -- the Submillimeter Array (SMA) and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) -- along with the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, Chou said.

Those telescopes have created the most ideal observation scenario because the EHT essentially turns the entire globe into one giant radio telescope, and the farther apart radio dishes in the array are, the sharper the images the EHT can make, she explained.

Once synchronized, these telescopes and other similar facilities around the world can achieve resolution 1,000 times finer than the strongest optical telescope in the world, according to the institution, adding that this type of high resolution can be compared to clearly seeing an object the size of a baseball on the Moon from Earth.

Academia Sinica not only maintains the 12-meter radio antenna in Greenland, which was originally built as a prototype for ALMA and then awarded to the Taiwan-U.S. team, but also took part in analyzing materials obtained by SMA, JCMT and ALMA, Chou said.

"Taiwan has made a significant contribution to this massive project," she said, adding that there will be international press conferences held simultaneously in Taipei, Brussels, Lyngby in Denmark, Santiago in Chile, Shanghai, Tokyo and Washington, D.C. late Wednesday to unveil details of the supermassive black hole.

A supermassive black hole is the largest type of black hole, containing a mass of the order of hundreds of thousands, to billions of times, the mass of the Sun.

The press conference, starting at 9 p.m. local time, will be available online at Academia Sinica channels on Youtube and Facebook.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)