Tech & Science

Black Hole Image: How and When to Watch Event Horizon Telescope Announcement Live Online

Scientists are about to reveal the first image of a black hole and its event horizon—the theoretical boundary that marks the "point of no return." The “groundbreaking result” from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project will be announced on Wednesday, April 10 at 9 a.m. ET.

In total, six press conferences will be held simultaneously around the globe. This includes one by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), which is being held in Washington D.C’s National Press Club and will be chaired by director France Córdova.

Viewers can watch the event by visiting the NSF web page on black holes here, or by watching the livestream below:

The NSF event will be attended by a panel of experts. This includes the director of the EHT project, Shepherd Doeleman, from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Daniel Marrone, an astronomer with the University of Arizona, Avery Broderick, from the University of Waterloo in Canada, and Sera Markoff, of the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Alternatively, a press conference is being held by the European Commission, European Research Council, and the EHT project will also be livestreamed on the European Southern Observatory website here. Viewers can ask questions by using the hashtag #AskEHTeu.

This event will take place in Brussels, Belgium, and will be led by Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation. He will be joined by Anton Zensus, Chair of the EHT Collaboration Board, Heino Falcke, the Chair of the EHT Science Council, Monika Mościbrodzka, the working group coordinator for the EHT, Luciano Rezzolla, EHT Board Member, and Eduardo Ros, the EHT Board Secretary.

The EHT is the first major project to produce an image of a black hole and its event horizon. Scientists linked up telescopes around the world to create one, Earth-sized virtual telescope. With this, they spent 10 days observing Sagittarius A*, the black hole that sits at the center of the Milky Way.

A black hole is a region of space where the gravitational forces are so strong that not even light can escape. Astronomers can see black holes as the material that accumulates at the edges gets very hot and appears very bright. However, the resolution of images returned is too low, so it just appears as a bright blur.

Over the observation period, astronomers with the EHT collected about a petabyte of data. To put that into perspective, an article by Computer Weekly notes that one petabyte would be enough to store the DNA data of every person in the U.S. and then to clone them twice.

After the observation period, the EHT data was sent to two research institutes—one in the U.S. and the other in Germany. It was then processed by supercomputers ready for scientists to analyze the results. In 2017, shortly after the initial observation period, Vincent Fish, a research scientist at MIT Haystack, Massachusetts, where half of the data was processed, told Newsweek: “What we expect to see is an asymmetric image where you have a circular dark region. That’s the black hole shadow. And there might be a bright ring at the edge of that—which is the photon ring [a spherical region of space where gravity is so strong photons are forced to travel in orbits]. Then around it you will see one side is bright and the other side is faint, so kind of like a crescent."

This article has been updated to include a link to a Twitter thread showing other livestreams of the announcement. 

black hole stock image Artist's impression of a black hole. iStock

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