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Astronomy and space

Event Horizon Telescope’s Shep Doeleman explains how to image a black hole

19 Dec 2019 Hamish Johnston

This episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast features an exclusive interview with Shep Doeleman of the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who is founding director of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). Doeleman and colleagues bagged the 2019 Physics World Breakthrough of the Year for capturing that iconic image of the shadow of a supermassive black hole at the centre of the Messier 87 galaxy.

Doeleman explains to me how the EHT uses eight radio dishes distributed across the western hemisphere to collect vast amounts of data, which are then combined to create images with remarkable angular resolution. He also says that the team would like to put dishes in space to improve the resolution even further. We also chat about how EHT astronomers are trying to image the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way – and how this could eventually lead to movies of black-hole dynamics.

I also chat with my colleagues Sarah Tesh and Matin Durrani about whether the 2010s has been the decade of black holes and ponder what field of physics could define the 2020s.

This is the final episode of the weekly podcast for 2019. Tune in on 9 January 2020 for the next installment.

 

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