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Thread: This is the first-ever picture of a black hole

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    This is the first-ever picture of a black hole



    This is the first-ever picture of a black hole

    Here it is, humanity, the first-ever photo of a black hole, taken by an international collaboration of scientists called the Event Horizon Telescope.

    This is a picture of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Messier 87 galaxy, which is 53.49 million light-years away. The black hole at its center is massive, some 6.5 billion times the mass of our sun, all contained in a single point of infinite density.

    “We exposed part of the universe we thought was invisible before,” Sheperd Doeleman, director of the Event Horizon Telescope, said at the press conference announcing the image Wednesday. The announcement coincided with the publication of six studies on the effort in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. “As with all great discoveries, this is just the beginning.”
    It's more impressive than it looks. That is the result of an enormous amount of data crunching from 8 different radio telescopes.

    On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
    -H. L. Mencken

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    I thought this was very cool although I'm not sure I genuinely understand the math.
    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gingersnap View Post
    I thought this was very cool although I'm not sure I genuinely understand the math.
    You're likely going to have to use more than one pencil, Ginger

    Snap.

    Quote Originally Posted by Norm dePlume View Post
    It's more impressive than it looks. That is the result of an enormous amount of data crunching from 8 different radio telescopes.
    At first I took for it for just a picture of some distant object in space, but the Vox piece is good at giving a glimpse of what's going on and what it takes to "see" it.

    I like this Guardian piece, too:

    Black hole picture captured for first time in space breakthrough
    ...But black holes are so small, dark and distant that observing them directly requires a telescope with a resolution equivalent to being able to see a bagel on the moon. This was once thought to be an insurmountable challenge.

    The EHT achieved the necessary firepower by combining data from eight of the world’s leading radio observatories, including the Atacama Large Millimetre Array (Alma) in Chile and the South Pole Telescope, creating an effective telescope the size of the Earth.

    When observations were launched in 2017, the EHT had two primary targets. First was Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way, which has a mass of about 4m suns. The second target, which yielded the image, was a supermassive black hole in the galaxy M87, into which the equivalent of 6bn suns of light and matter has disappeared.

    The collaboration is still working on producing an image of the Milky Way’s black hole. “We hope to get that very soon,” said Doeleman.

    The success of the project hinged on clear skies on several continents simultaneously and exquisite coordination between the eight far-flung teams. Observations at the different sites were coordinated using atomic clocks, called hydrogen masers, accurate to within one second every 100 million years. And, on one night in April 2017, everything came together. “We got super lucky, the weather was perfect,” said Ziri Younsi, a member of the EHT collaboration who is based at University College London.

    The sheer volume of data generated was also unprecedented – in one night the EHT generated enough data to fill half a tonne of hard drives. This meant waiting for half a year for the South Pole data, which could only be shipped out at the end of Antarctic winter.
    It's a good companion piece to the Vox report, with some simple diagrams,

    plus a good human interest angle about a then-MIT student involved:

    Picture from a BBC report.

    The student who developed a crucial algorithm

    The Event Horizon Telescope relies on a technique called interferometry. This is a bit like trying to reconstructing a pebble being dropped into a pond by placing detectors around the pond’s edge to measure the ripples sent out. Similarly, with the EHT, the signals from all eight telescopes have to be combined and fed through a computer to turn a mountain of incomprehensible blips into a visual picture.

    This presented an unprecedented computational challenge: the amount of data collected was so enormous that it had to be physically shipped to a central location, the MIT Haystack observatory, in the form of half a tonne of hard drives.

    Developing new, sophisticated algorithms was a crucial part of turning the EHT data into an image. These needed to not only combine the data but also filter out noise caused by factors like atmospheric humidity, which warps radio waves, and precisely synchronising the signals captured by the far-flung telescopes.

    While still studying at MIT, the computer scientist Katie Bouman came up with a new algorithm to stitch together data collected across the EHT network. Bouman went on to lead an elaborate series of tests aimed at ensuring that the EHT’s image was not the result of some form of technical glitch or fluke. At one stage, this involved the collaboration splitting into four separate teams which analysed the data independently until they were absolutely confident of their findings.

    “We’re a melting pot of astronomers, physicists, mathematicians and engineers, and that’s what it took to achieve something once thought impossible,” said Bouman.
    The observations are already giving scientists new insights into the weird environment close to black holes, where gravity is so fierce that reality as we know it is distorted beyond recognition.
    Gravity, is it? I thought it was politics.
    "The way I see it, there's always, c'mon, there's always money. It's there." —Elizabeth Warren, explaining socialism.

    “The interesting thing about the Green New Deal is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all.... We really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.” —Saikat Chakrabarti, then AOC's Chief of Staff.

    "We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them." —CNN's Don Lemon, showing how to stop demonizing people.

    "What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.” ―Robert F. Kennedy.

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    Way beyond my comprehension, but interesting.
    Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live...
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    I know that I'm a horrible human being for feeling this way, but now that I can see it, I really want to stand on a balcony over the black hole and pee into it.
    Leftists have unquestionably demonstrated their hatred for due process, and Democrats have undeniably obstructed justice for, and thoroughly victim-shamed and smeared, Karen Monahan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam View Post
    I know that I'm a horrible human being for feeling this way, but now that I can see it, I really want to stand on a balcony over the black hole and pee into it.
    Nope. That's the default human response. Perfectly normal.

    I was thinking that it would be "better" if we could set it on fire.
    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gingersnap View Post
    Nope. That's the default human response. Perfectly normal.

    I was thinking that it would be "better" if we could set it on fire.
    I think that it's more the default male response. If you want to pee into it, I might be a little worried.
    Leftists have unquestionably demonstrated their hatred for due process, and Democrats have undeniably obstructed justice for, and thoroughly victim-shamed and smeared, Karen Monahan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam View Post
    I think that it's more the default male response. If you want to pee into it, I might be a little worried.
    I've never written my name in the snow with urine but I've set a really surprising number of things on fire.

    Often deliberately.
    "Alexa, slaughter the fatted calf."

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    Katie Bouman: The woman behind the first black hole image

    A 29-year-old computer scientist has earned plaudits worldwide for helping develop the algorithm that created the first-ever image of a black hole.

    Katie Bouman led development of a computer program that made the breakthrough image possible.
    Some well-deserved attention.

    On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
    -H. L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam View Post
    I think that it's more the default male response. If you want to pee into it, I might be a little worried.
    An old homeless drunk once told me he "took it [life] simple." I paraphrase a fair amount: "Whatever you come across, be a dog. Either screw it, eat it or piss on it."

    I dunno. Maybe that's another reason dogs didn't build the pyramids.
    Last edited by Newman; Thursday, April 11th, 2019 at 2:45 PM.
    "The way I see it, there's always, c'mon, there's always money. It's there." —Elizabeth Warren, explaining socialism.

    “The interesting thing about the Green New Deal is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all.... We really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.” —Saikat Chakrabarti, then AOC's Chief of Staff.

    "We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them." —CNN's Don Lemon, showing how to stop demonizing people.

    "What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.” ―Robert F. Kennedy.

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