The accuracy of the observation instrument at the planetary scale is very impressive: the level of detail it provides is like being able to count the stitches on a baseball from 8,000 miles away. The Event Horizon Telescope should be able to provide a clear image showing the ring surrounding a black hole and its shadow. The image returned should show the flow of material going in and out of the black hole. Researchers targeted two black holes. The first, Sagittarius A*, is the black hole that sits at the center of the Milky Way. The other, Messier 87, is a supermassive black hole in an elliptical galaxy 53 million light years away. In fact, at this moment, the compounded telescope returned first results. Around one petabyte of data has been collected and distributed to MIT Haystack Massachusetts and the Max Planck institutes (the second is in Bonn, in Germany).
Supercomputers will work for interpretation. Some data collected at the South Pole telescope will be unavailable for six months, planes cannot land there because of winter. “I don’t think we’ll have the complete dataset until January next year,” Vincent Fish, a research scientist at MIT Haystack explained. Black holes are effectively laboratories for extreme physics and researchers expect to have answers to many questions about how the universe works.