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It took eight telescopes across the planet a week of observations to produce the black hole image that stunned the world last week, but it took scientists much longer to teach those instruments to work together.
And in the two years since the data behind that image was gathered, the Event Horizon Telescope partnership behind the groundbreaking observations has already expanded, with more telescopes looking to join the fray soon. Each new instrument will sharpen scientists' images of their quarry, but each will also need to be outfitted carefully before it can join the collaboration.
Work - Dan - Marrone - Astronomer - University
Fortunately, the hardest work is already done, Dan Marrone, an astronomer at the University of Arizona and a member of the Event Horizon Telescope science team, told Space.com. "For the most part, the sites we're adding now are just reimplementing the basic hardware that we know how to do well," he said.
But the more telescopes the team can bring on board, the sharper the final image is. The challenge in doing this comes from the fact that none of these telescopes were custom-built for the Event Horizon Telescope project. They're just instruments that happen to be what scientists call submillimeter telescopes, which can sense the wavelength range the Event Horizon team members needed to tune to for their black hole hunt.
South - Pole - Telescope - Team - Telescope
For the South Pole Telescope, then, the team needed to adapt a telescope designed to study the remnants of the Big Bang, installing a special detector and an optics package. All of which, of course, needed to withstand the extreme cold of Antarctica.
The Event Horizon Telescope, a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration, captured this image of the supermassive black hole in the center of the galaxy M87 and its shadow.
Instruments - Observations - Telescopes
And the instruments involved in the observations included both single-dish telescopes and...
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