The ‘fuzzy’ photo of the black hole could soon be sharp as a knife

The ‘fuzzy’ photo of the black hole could soon be sharp as a knife
The first ever photograph of a black hole in spaceEvent Horizon Telescope

  • Astronomers are working on plan to capture sharper images of the ‘fuzzy’ black hole photographed last month.
  • They believe that one of the primary reasons for the ‘fuzziness’ was the fact that the picture was taken from Earth.
  • So, their plan is to launch satellites into space with telescopes on board to capture clearer photographs.
While it’s all well and good that scientists were able to capture the first ever picture of a black hole, many have described the image as being unclear or ‘fuzzy’ — even a ‘smudge on the lens’.

One of the reasons for that might be the fact that it was taken from Earth.

The ‘fuzzy’ photo of the black hole could soon be sharp as a knife
Simulation of what the image of the black hole could look like if it was taken from space instead of from EarthRadboud University

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According to astronomers from Radboud University and the European Space Agency (ESA) putting two or three satellite into orbit to capture an image of the black hope would yield sharper results — five times sharper.

The satellites would have telescopes on board and since all of this is up in space — the telescopes would be further apart allowing them to cover more area.

All, in a neat little package called the Event Horizon Imager (EHI).

In space, you can make observations at higher radio frequencies, because the frequencies from Earth are filtered out by the atmosphere. The distances between the telescopes in space are also larger.

Freek Roelofs, a Ph.D. candidate at Radboud University and the lead author of the study

Advantages of outer space

It might not be the easiest thing to get these satellites up into space, but it does have its advantages.

The concept demands that you must be able to ascertain the position and speed of the satellites very accurately. But we really believe that the project is feasible.

Volodymyr Kudriashov, a researcher at the Radboud Radio Lab who also works at ESA

For example, since the Earth’s atmosphere is taken out of the equation, the EHI should theoretically be able to take pictures five other black holes that are much smaller than the one famously captured earlier this year.

The point of getting sharper images of the original black hole isn’t just a superficial endeavour, but one that could help scientists test Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.

According to Heino Falcke, a Radio Astronomy Professors, “With them, you can take near perfect images to see the real details of black holes. If small deviations from Einstein's theory occur, we should be able to see them.”

The authors of the study theorize that while, ideally, they would want the satellite system to be independent — there might be a case to be made for integrating that system with the telescopes on Earth to form a hybrid system of sorts.

Using a hybrid like this could provide the possibility of creating moving images of a black hole, and you might be able to observe even more and also weaker sources.

Heino Falcke , Radio Astronomy Professor

The very fact that there is conversation around photographing something invisible is a feat on its own.

See also:
A black hole bigger than the sun is pulling on the fabric of space and time

Here's how astronomers took the first image of a black hole that's located 55 million light years away

Physicists have discovered that rotating black holes might serve as portals for hyperspace travel