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Global Scientific Cooperation of Astronomers Captures First Image of a Black Hole

April 18, 2019

© Event Horizon Telescope

Scientists working with the Event Horizon Telescope made headlines all over the world when they announced that they had obtained the first ever image of a black hole, something long thought to be completely impossible. This incredible feat was accomplished using a global network of dedicated scientists.

German-American cooperation played a key role in the project. The Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, along with the MIT Haystack Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was responsible for combining the petabytes of raw data generated by telescopes using highly specialized computers. This data was then used to generate the groundbreaking image.

Creating an image like this required data from many viewpoints on several continents. Scientists from the United States and Germany played their part in this global effort by operating telescopes at three of these locations. American scientists from the National Science Foundation, The University of Massachusetts, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, the University of Chicago, and the University of Arizona all had a hand in operating one of these telescopes, as did their German counterparts at the Max Planck Gesellschaft and the European Southern Observatory.

Finally, the Black Hole Cam, one of the many projects contributing to the effort, was led by Luciano Rezzolla, professor of theoretical physics at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany in collaboration with the Max-Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy and the Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

This massive breakthrough would not have been possible without years of collaboration and knowledge sharing within this global network. Thanks to this project, scientists now have strong evidence for the existence of supermassive black holes and can reach new horizons in the study of black holes and gravity.

Find out more about the image and the team behind it here.

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