The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) team plans to release clearer images next year of a black hole in the galaxy Messier 87 (M87), as well as dynamic images of another black hole in the center of our galaxy, an Academia Sinica researcher said yesterday.
The international team in April last year released the first-ever image of the black hole at the center of M87, an image derived in 2017 through a virtual Earth-size telescope that involved eight arrays.
Academia Sinica researchers helped operate three of the arrays, including the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and the Sub-Millimeter Array in Hawaii, and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile.
Photo courtesy of Chen Ming-tang
Having lived in Hawaii since 2002 to operate telescopes, Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂), a research fellow at the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics said that the EHT team plans to publish clearer images of the M87 black hole next year.
After the Greenland Telescope, a project led by the institute, joined the EHT in 2018, they have derived clearer images of the M87 black hole, which would allow scientists to study its changes in more depth, he said.
The team also plans to release the images of another smaller black hole in the Sagittarius A* region at the center of our galaxy, which were captured in 2017, Chen said, adding that processing the data is time-consuming.
Photo provided by Discovery
The movement of the smaller black hole, which has only a one-1000th the mass of the M87 black hole, could be more easily observed with current technology, Chen said.
He is glad to see this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics being awarded to black hole researchers, after the Nobel committee in 2017 recognized the research on gravitational waves, a phenomenon pertinent to black holes, Chen said, adding that Taiwan is also playing a part in the global pursuit of black hole mysteries.
Asked about the researchers’ next step, Chen said that he hopes to relocate the Greenland Telescope from its position at the Thule Air Base to a better location atop a 3,200m peak on the Greenland ice sheet, a goal announced by the institute in 2018.
However, there is little progress so far due to travel restrictions under the impact of COVID-19 and a lack of funding, Chen said.
Ministry of Science and Technology data showed that it has allocated an annual average of NT$100 million (US$3.45 million) over the past five years to support projects related to black hole observations.
Relocating the telescope would require US$25 million to move the telescope and an annual spending of US$4 million for maintenance at the remote location, the data showed.
Academia Sinica said it would continue to promote research on black holes and it is looking forward to the next scientific breakthroughs.
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