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Astronomers eye-up an orbiting array for imaging Milky Way’s supermassive black hole

29 Apr 2019, 09:58 UTC
Astronomers eye-up an orbiting array for imaging Milky Way’s supermassive black hole
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Following the release of the first image of a black hole from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) earlier this month, astronomers are now hoping the project can achieve another of its core aims: to produce a similar portrait of the environment near the black hole at the heart of our galaxy, dubbed Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*).
While we wait for those elusive images, some scientists – including several members of the EHT team – have been devising a new approach for capturing views of this enigmatic region. Their idea is to exploit a constellation of satellites to produce images that can reveal much more detail than can be recorded by the EHT’s current network of ground-based observatories.

A group led by Freek Roelofs of Radboud University in the Netherlands have now simulated the images that could be created of Sgr A* and its immediate surroundings by the proposed mission, called the “Event Horizon Imager”. While the EHT exploits a coalition of millimetre and sub-millimetre telescopes scattered across the planet, the space-based Event Horizon Imager would consist of multiple satellites – each one fitted with a dish capable of collecting sub-millimetre radiation – in orbit around the Earth.
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