Scientists create new algorithm that may allow astronomers to generate first full image of black hole

Scientists create new algorithm that may allow astronomers to generate first full image of black hole

Direct observation of a black hole is almost impossible due to the presence of a gravitational pull so huge that not even light can leave the region.

Scientists have now come up with a new algorithm that could allow astronomers produce the first full picture of a black hole. With the help of data collected using a connected array of radio telescopes worldwide, the algorithm efficiently changes our planet into a gigantic radio telescope having a resolution factor over a thousand times higher in comparison to that of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Often, astronomers use radio telescopes for imaging far away objects as, unlike usual optical telescopes, the radio telescopes’ wavelengths are quite longer and less vulnerable to the scattering effects of the our planet’s atmosphere and dust clouds between us and far away interstellar objects.

Katie Bouman, an MIT graduate student who led the development of the new algorithm, said, “Radio wavelengths come with a lot of advantages. Just like how radio frequencies will go through walls, they pierce through galactic dust. We would never be able to see into the center of our galaxy in visible wavelengths because there's too much stuff in between”.

But, there is a trade-off, because long radio wavelengths also need huge antenna dishes for the collection of the received signals, indicating that images’ resolution is also poorer at longer wavelengths, and usually radio telescopes are combined with multi-beam or multi-antenna arrays to make the clarity of the captured radio ‘pictures’ better.

Bouman said that a black hole lies at very far away and is quite compact. He added that capturing a picture of the black hole amid the Milky Way galaxy is equal to clicking an image of a grapefruit on the moon, using a radio telescope.

For capturing something so small requires a telescope having a 10,000-kilometer diameter, which isn’t feasible as Earth’s diameter isn’t even 13,000 kilometers.