Rhodes team’s work part of black hole breakthrough
Rhodes University played an integral role in the paradigm-shifting observations of the gargantuan black hole at the heart of a distant galaxy.
The image of the black hole captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) – a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration – made headlines around the world this week.
EHT researchers said this was the first direct visual evidence of a super-massive black hole and its shadow.
The image reveals the black hole at the centre of Messier 87, a huge galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster.
This black hole resides 55 million light-years from Earth and has a mass 6.5-billion times that of the Sun.
Black holes are extraordinary cosmic objects with enormous masses but have extremely compact sizes, said Rhodes University in a press statement.
The presence of these objects affects their environment in extreme ways, warping spacetime and super-heating any surrounding material.
The EHT links telescopes around the globe to form an “earth-sized” virtual telescope with unprecedented sensitivity and resolution.
The EHT is the result of years of international collaboration and offers scientists a new way to study the most extreme objects in the universe.
Rhodes University says its contribution was a highly realistic simulation of this earth-sized instrument.
The simulation had enabled astronomers to better understand real observations, discriminate between theoretical black hole models, and provide insights into the characteristics of the telescope itself.
Rhodes University visiting fellow and EHT consortium member, Professor Roger Deane, said Rhodes University’s world-class radio interferometry group had made significant contributions to cutting-edge radio telescopes like the EHT...