Simulated representation of a black hole. / Photo: Alain R. Wikimedia Commons
Eduardo González. 15/01/2018
The astronomical observatories of Pico Veleta (Granada) and Yebes (Guadalajara) have contributed their radio telescopes to an ambitious international project that has allowed gathering the necessary data to obtain the first image of the history of a black hole.
The project was launched in April 2017, when the eight most powerful radio telescopes on Earth, located at the South Pole, Hawaii, Mexico, Chile (ALMA, the most sensitive instrument in the world in millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths), Arizona, Greenland and Spain (the two cited), were combined through the EHT and GMVA observation networks to obtain data from the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A, at the center of the Milky Way and about 26,000 light years from Earth.
After two months of data collection, last December, the astronomical data of the only radio telescope that had not yet sent them, the South Pole, arrived at the Haystack Observatory in Westford, Massachusetts, what has allowed to gather definitively all the information accumulated by the EHT team. Once the set was completed (the data of the EHT in Haystack and those of the GMVA in Bonn), it was possible to gather the information equivalent to a virtual telescope the size of the Earth.
Pico Veleta and Yebes will help to capture the image of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way
The next step will be the comparison and the definitive analysis of all the data, in order to conclude in about three weeks the great objective of the project: to obtain the image, in any case indirect (in reality, the ring of light that surrounds the of no return), of a black hole whose mass is four million times greater than that of the Sun.
In this historic project, the 40-meter-diameter radio telescope of the National Geographic Institute (IGN) at the Yebes Observatory, through the GMVA network, and the 30-meter radio telescope of the Observatory of the Millimeter Radioastrinomy Institute (IRAM) in Pico Veleta, in Sierra Nevada, within the EHT network, have participated.