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Imaging a Black Hole

History was made this past April when the first ever image of a black hole was taken. This groundbreaking image was shared by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) group.

The Event Horizon Telescope’s eight partnering observatories are spaced around the world and are linked together through a process known as interferometry. The idea behind interferometry is to create one telescope with an enormous collecting area out of many smaller telescopes. Linking them together increases the resolution of the final configuration of observatories.

This international network of radio telescopes set out to image the supermassive black hole in the center of the Messier 87 galaxy, 55 million light-years from Earth. By utilizing the network across the globe, the EHT array effectively became a telescope the size of our planet to make this feat a reality!

The theory is that there is a black hole, an unfathomably dense object at the center of every galaxy, holding it together with its massive gravitational pull. It is so massive that most light cannot escape it. Therefore, when we look at it, we see an orb of light around the black hole, called the event horizon.

Why are we so excited about this discovery? Throughout the years, Cryomech Cryocooler Systems have been provided to at least 6 of the telescopes in the array! There are currently 8 active telescopes in the array. Three joining in 2018-2020 and two that were decommissioned before the image of the black hole was released. Without Cryomech Pulse Tube Cryocoolers, the focal planes and radiation shields of the telescopes would not achieve the low temperatures required for operation. Just imagine taking a picture of a pebble on the moon from where you are standing. That’s how powerful these telescopes need to be!

We have proven time and time again why scientists around the world want our equipment to support their ground-breaking studies.

Article and Research by John Ketcham (Sales Engineer – Helium Applications)