Study of Black Hole :
It’s been a year since the world’s first picture of a black hole came into lights. And with the successful yield of the research, the scientific community was fully-fledged to study the black hole much deeper but unfortunately, they faced unexpected hurdles on the path of their study of the black hole.
The Event Horizon Telescope network had some unexpected technical problems in 2018 that led to a drop in its 2-year data (2018-2019).
Coronavirus stymied the study of a black hole…
Despite the lack of full data in 2018 and 2019, the scientists plotted to make 2020 the best productive year. They planned to increase the total number of Event Horizon Telescope network’s observation to 11 by including the NOEMA array in the French Alps, the Kitt Peak Observatory in Arizona, and the Greenland Telescope that can help the team to zoom in on M87’s jets and get better images.
They also planned to push the observations with radio emissions at high frequencies, which can easily go through the black hole’s plasma surrounding and throughout the distance between Earth and Sagittarius A* which is about 25,640 light-years, our neighboring supermassive black hole. And the 2020 observations from the EHT were scheduled from 25th March – 5th April.
The scientists explained that the team in January had performed a perfect dry run with astronomers visiting some of the harshest regions of the world to make sure the telescopes were prepped.
And as the astronomers were all prepared to reach their respective destinations to initiate their research, the disaster struck, the team had to face yet another disappointment as it was canceled due to the lockdown effect around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Strict travel restrictions and Curfew were in effect in almost every country.
Astrophysicist and the founding director of EHT for the study of black hole, Sheperd Doeleman said in an interview, “ It was the only with the greatest reluctance, but with safety paramount, that we canceled the observations. We’re happy to be part of the solution, actually, by not traveling. But it is still heartbreaking.”
Amid all these set-backs, luckily the EHT team is researching through its 2017 data as there are still unexplained data to figure out in the study of a black hole.
Interesting fact: The picture of M87’s supermassive black hole’s event horizon released in 2019 was completely made from the observatory data collected in 2017.
The researchers are now working on analyzing the black hole’s magnetic field along with other yet-to-be-explained data of 2017.
Prf. Doeleman and his team are expecting to increase the number of telescopes of the EHT network across the world by 10 or more within a decade to multiply the research capacity for the study of black holes.
Sheperd Doeleman said, “The announcement last year showed everyone what the EHT is capable of, we have the freedom we didn’t have before.”