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Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al.

Astronomers capture first image of a black hole  |  Download this Image

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. Today, in coordinated press conferences across the globe, EHT researchers reveal that they have succeeded, unveiling the first direct visual evidence of a supermassive black hole and its shadow. This breakthrough was announced in a series of six papers published in a special issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters. The image reveals the black hole at the center of Messier 87, a massive 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.

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ANIMATION (Contains no audio)
If you could fly next to the supermassive black hole M87*, this is what you would see. (Version with explanatory text on screen is available below)

BRIEF, SELF-CONTAINED, NARRATED OVERVIEW
with a simple explanation of how the EHT works and the black hole image it captured. Includes a soundbite with the National Science Foundation director and the Event Horizon Telescope director.

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PDF Downloads


EHT Poster w/ Black Hole Image

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NSF Press Conference Panelist Bios

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NSF/EHT Fact Sheet

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History of NSF Support for VLBI

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Video Assets

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VIDEO SOUNDBITES: Sheperd Doeleman, EHT director, talks about the EHT project.

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VIDEO SOUNDBITES: France Córdova, NSF Director, talks about the importance of collaboration and NSF's role in this significant discovery.

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VIDEO SOUNDBITES: Peter Kurczynski, NSF astronomer, talks about the science of EHT.

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VIDEO SOUNDBITES: Joseph Pesce, NSF astronomer, talks about the science of black holes.

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ANIMATION – forming an Earth-size telescope – 10 seconds
Eight telescopes around the world are synchronized with atomic clocks, creating a virtual telescope dish as large as the Earth itself.

ANIMATION – forming an Earth-size telescope – 14 seconds
Eight radio telescopes around the globe, synchronized by atomic clocks, all look at the same black hole at the same time, and that creates a virtual telescope dish as large as the Earth itself.

OBSERVATORY B-ROLL
Contains 8 EHT telescopes and 2 data centers identified on slates.

OBSERVATORY MONTAGE
Contains 8 EHT telescopes and 2 data centers identified on screen.

ANIMATION WITH EXPLANATORY TEXT ON SCREEN
If you could fly next to the supermassive black hole M87*, this is what you would see.

Image Assets


Radio waves from distant celestial objects arrive at different points on Earth at different times. For VLBI to work, these waves must be matched wave-for-wave at each and every station. To accomplish this, the EHT uses ultra-precise atomic clocks, which time stamp the data. Later, when the data are combined, astronomers can ensure that each observatory’s data align with the data from all the rest.

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Black holes are so difficult to detect that no single instrument can even make the attempt. Instead, any effort to image a black hole will require a team of telescopes, all working together, using a technique called interferometry. This graphic from NSF's National Radio Astronomy Observatory explains interferometry and how collaborations like the Event Horizon Telescope use it hunt for black holes.

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For the Event Horizon Telescope, resolving the image of M87* from petabytes of information was a Big Data challenge. This infographic helps explain how they accomplished that monumental task.

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The South Pole Telescope is located in Antarctica, the most extreme location of the eight telescopes in the Event Horizon Telescope Array. It is one of two in the array managed by the University of Arizona. Photo credit: Junhan Kim, The University of Arizona.

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The Submillimeter Telescope (SMT), one of eight among the Event Horizon Telescope Array and one of two in the array under the management of the University of Arizona, magnifies the evening sky as the sun sets on Mount Graham near Tucson, Arizona. Photo credit: David Harvey

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