Scientists looking for a Giant Elephant at the center of the galaxy; Taking pictures of Black Holes

By: ( +David Herron; Date: Wed Jun 28 2017 17:00:00 GMT-0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)

Tags: Image Analysis »»»» Astronomy »»»» Black Holes

Nothing escapes from a Black Hole, yes? That means it's impossible to take a picture of a black hole because the photons you'd capture for the image cannot escape the black hole. Therefore, how do you take a picture of a black hole? Astrophysicists are working on a system to sort-of take such a picture. They've observed orbits of stars at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, and deduced there must be a super-massive-black-hole. How do they verify this assumption?

While one cannot take a direct picture of a black hole, there is supposed to be (according to Einstein's Equations) a big light show at the Event Horizon. Imaging THAT for the Milky Way's super-massive black hole would require a telescope the size of Planet Earth.

A telescope that size isn't practical. Instead, Astronomers are piecing together a large telescope by slaving together radio-telescopes around the planet, and using computer-aided-image-analysis to put together the whole picture. The effect is a virtual telescope the size of the planet. They expect to have the first images later in 2017.

A key in the effort is to not prejudge the content of the images. They can't just program Einstein's Equations into the image processing algorithms, because that would just give them the images Einstein predicted. Instead they need to remain open to any possible result, and then be pleasantly surprised if the result confirms Einstein's predictions, or to learn from the result if they do not confirm the prediction.