The Haystack Observatory in Westford Had a Big Role in the Black Hole’s Image

Wednesday, April 7, 2019, was a great day in humankind history. The National Science Foundation shared the first image of a black hole! The impressive black hole is inside the Virgo Galaxy, also known as Messier 87. The image was captured in 2017, and until now it has taken two years to process. The historic accomplishment couldn’t be realized without the EHT system, the international project that combined telescopes from nine sites around the world. Moreover, Haystack Observatory had made a crucial contribution to the project.

How Was the Project Organized?

With the global coordination from all the sites, they have created a lens the size of Earth. But the first step was made at the Haystack Observatory, in Westford, where the data was captured and processed. After that, the other half of the process was made at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany.

How Was the Process Been Made?

Michael Titus, a technical associate from Groton, worked to correlate all the data from all the telescopes connected to the EHT. After that, the data must be synthesized for the image process to take place. In those almost two years, researchers like Engineer Jason Soohoo, of Chelmsford, had visited telescopes from all the sites to set up and test the equipment, and after that to gather the data. The process was demanding because of wheatear factors like on the South Pole, and other technical problems encountered on the long.

However, the most impressive fact is that Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity formed more than a century ago, has been confirmed by the existence of a black hole. The scientists don’t know what is happening in a black hole, but they found that this one revealed on images, is about 55 million light years from Earth. With Einstein’s theory and the help of Haystack Observatory, we have witnessed a crucial moment in history.

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