Telescopes in space for even sharper images of black holes



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In space, the EHI has a resolution more than five times that of EHT on Earth and the images can be reconstructed with greater fidelity. Upper left: Sagittarius model A * at an observation frequency of 230 GHz. Upper left: simulation of an image of this model with the EHT. Below left: Sagittarius Model A * at an observation frequency of 690 GHz. Bottom right: Simulation of an image of this model with the EHI.
In space, the EHI has a resolution more than five times that of EHT on Earth and the images can be reconstructed with greater fidelity. Upper left: Sagittarius model A * at an observation frequency of 230 GHz. Upper left: simulation of an image of this model with the EHT. Below left: Sagittarius Model A * at an observation frequency of 690 GHz. Bottom right: Simulation of an image of this model with the EHI.


Recently, the Event Horizon Telescope released the first direct image of a black hole and its neighborhood. Now, astronomers have the challenge of capturing even sharper images to test Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.

Radboud University astronomers, in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) and other countries, are now putting that concept forward to achieve this by launching radio telescopes into space.

They have plans to launch two or three satellites in a circular orbit around the Earth to observe black holes. The concept goes by the name of Event Horizon Imager (EHI). In his new study, the scientist's current simulations on which images of the Sagittarius A * black hole would remain if taken by satellites like these.

According to the scientists, sharper images of black holes can lead to detailed insights that can be used to test Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.

Freek Roelofs, a PhD candidate at Radboud University and the lead author of the paper said: "There are many advantages to using satellites instead of permanent radio telescopes on Earth, such as the Horizon Event Telescope (EHT). In space, you can make observations at higher radio frequencies because the earth's frequencies are filtered through the atmosphere. The distances between the telescopes in space are also greater. This allows us to take a big step forward. We could take pictures with a resolution more than five times greater than what is possible with EHT. "

Radio astronomy professor Heino Falcke says: "Sharper images of a black hole will lead to better information that could be used to test Einstein's Theory of General Relativity in more detail. The fact that the satellites are moving around the Earth brings considerable advantages. With them, you can take almost perfect photos to see the real details of the black holes. If small deviations from Einstein's theory occur, we can see them. "

The EHI will also have the ability to view about five additional black holes that are smaller than the black holes the EHT is focusing on now. The latter is Sagittarius A * at the focal point of our Milky Way and M87 * at the focal point of Messier 87, a monstrous system in the Virgo Cluster.

In addition, scientists have simulated what they would be able to see with different versions of technology in different circumstances. To do this, they made use of models of plasma behavior around the black hole and the resulting radiation.

Volodymyr Kudriashov, a researcher at Radboud Radio Lab, who also works at ESA / ESTEC, said: "The concept requires you to be able to accurately determine the position and speed of satellites. But we really believe the project is viable. "

"You also need to consider how satellites exchange data. "With EHT, hard drives with data are transported to the processing center by plane. This is obviously not possible in space. In this concept, the satellites will exchange data through a laser link, with the data being partially processed on board before being sent back to Earth for further analysis. There are already laser links in space. "

The study was published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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