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SXSW 2019

EHT: A Planetary Effort to Photograph a Black Hole

Black holes are not just cosmic vacuum cleaners. Predicted almost a century ago by Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, black holes not only exist, but actually power some of the most extreme phenomena in the Universe. The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is a global effort to construct an Earth-sized virtual telescope array, able to actually “photograph” nearby supermassive black holes. It had its first full run in April 2017, and will announce results in early 2019. Join EHT project director and project scientist (Doeleman, Psaltis), EHT science council astrophysicist (Markoff), and author/filmmaker (Galison) as they present the first images from the EHT along with their scientific, philosophical, and historical impact. Q&A session to follow (moderator: Galison).

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Takeaways

  1. Black holes can be seen even though light cannot escape them. Surrounding matter illuminates the hole's “shadow”, revealing the shape of spacetime.
  2. The EHT is a global experiment linking telescopes across Earth and resulting in the first-ever “photographs” of our own Galaxy’s central black hole.
  3. The act of seeing an object for the first time—like the actual event horizon of a black hole—plays a key role in the development of science.

Speakers

Organizer

Sera Markoff, Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics and Astroparticle Physics, University of Amsterdam

Meta Information:

  • Event: SXSW
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Intelligent Future
  • Level: Beginner
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