Astronomy

Maunakea Observatories: Groundbreaking Results From Event Horizon Telescope

August 7, 2019, 8:10 AM HST
* Updated August 7, 3:28 PM
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The black hole that was depicted for the first time this week in in an image produced in a landmark experiment has been named by UH Hilo Hawaiian Language Professor Larry Kimura. 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. The shadow of a black hole seen here 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 during a 2017 global 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 specialized 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.

An astronomy talk story about the groundbreaking results from the Event Horizon Telescope and the pioneering role Maukea Observatories played in this nearly-impossible experiment is set for Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019 at the Kahilu Theater in Waimea.

Doors open at 6 p.m., the talk will begin at 6:30 p.m. for PŌWEHI – Hawaii and the Event Horizon Telescope.

Discussion will also explore the way in which Hawaiian language and culture are enriching astronomy with a bridge to a new, yet old, understanding of the cosmos.

Panelists will include Geoffrey Bower from the Event Horizon Telescope Group, Jessica Dempsey from East Asian Observatory, Larry Kimura from the College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and Doug Simons from Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.

 To RSVP, click here or call (808) 885-7887

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Contact Outreach Coordinator Shelly Pelfrey at [email protected] or go online for more information.

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The Kahilu Theatre is located at 67-1186 Lindsey Road in Kamuela (Waimea).

 

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