Was Einstein Right?
Scientists at the University of Arizona are working with researchers around the world to help take the first-ever picture of a black hole. The outcome of this monumental effort will put Einstein's Theory of General Relativity to the test and involves an observatory of unprecedented size. Eight radio telescopes around the globe, including two that involve the UA, were synchronized into one, Earth-sized virtual telescope: The Event Horizon Telescope, or EHT.
How the University of Arizona is involved:
- EHT Project Scientist Dimitrios Psaltis is a professor in the UA's Departments of Astronomy and Physics. In all, 36 UA researchers, graduate students and undergraduate students are involved in the EHT project.
- The UA is responsible for integrating 2 of the 8 telescopes that made up the EHT during the 2017 observation run.
- The Submillimeter Telescope (SMT) on Mt. Graham, Arizona — the only EHT telescope on the North American continent
- The South Pole Telescope (SPT) at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica
- The UA pioneered Nvidia graphics processor-powered supercomputing used in high-performance videogaming and graphics computation to tackle a real-world, big-data science grand challenge.
- The UA has been developing realistic simulations of the physical processes governing black holes, thought to be the universe's most extreme objects, as predicted by Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. These are being used to process EHT observation data, to ground-truth the expected results and to create scientifically accurate and visually stunning simulations of black hole environments.
Electronic Press Kit
EHT Project Scientist
Principal Investigator of Black Hole PIRE Project
University of Arizona Professor of Astronomy
Dimitrios Psaltis is the EHT Project Scientist and Professor of Astronomy and Physics at the University of Arizona. His research group has led the development of tests of the Theory of General Relativity with EHT observations. He develops novel, high-performance computational tools to study various aspects of the physics and astrophysics of black holes and neutron stars.
EHT Science Council Member
EHT Lead of Modeling and Analysis Working Group
Co-Investigator of Black Hole PIRE Project
University of Arizona Professor of Astronomy and Physics
Feryal Özel is an EHT Science Council member, Lead of the Modeling and Analysis Working Group, and Professor of Astronomy and Physics at the University of Arizona. Özel develops theoretical and computational methods to study black holes and neutron stars and to build models of their extreme environments. She made the first predictions of the images of nearby supermassive black holes at different wavelengths, which guided the development of the Event Horizon Telescope and the analysis of the results.
EHT Science Council Member
Principal Investigator of the EHT Receiving System for the South Pole Telescope
EHT Lead of Time Domain Working Group
Co-Investigator of Black Hole PIRE Project
University of Arizona Associate Professor of Astronomy
Dan Marrone is an EHT Science Council member, Principal Investigator of the receiving system for the South Pole Telescope, and Lead of the EHT Time Domain working group. Marrone, a University of Arizona Associate Professor of Astronomy, is responsible for building, installing and maintaining the EHT receiving and recording system at the South Pole Telescope. He is also responsible for testing and operating the EHT observing systems for the two Arizona telescopes: The Submillimeter Telescope on Mt. Graham and the 12-meter telescope on Kitt Peak. Marrone is an expert on the polarization and variability of the Galactic Center black hole.
EHT Lead of Computations and Software Working Group
Senior Investigator of Black Hole PIRE Project
University of Arizona Assistant Astronomer
University of Arizona Data Science Institute Fellow
Chi-kwan Chan is a lead of the EHT computational and data processing efforts and an Assistant Astronomer at the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory. He has developed new algorithms to study turbulent plasma around black holes, spearheaded the use of graphics processing units (GPUs) to accelerate modeling of black hole images, architected cloud computing infrastructures to handle big observational data, and applied machine learning algorithms to speed up and automate data processing.
Member of the Event Horizon Telescope Institutional Board
University of Arizona Department Head of Astronomy and Director of the Steward Observatory
Buell Jannuzi is a member of the EHT Institutional Board and the UA Department Head of Astronomy and Director of Steward Observatory. His main scientific interests include the formation and evolution of individual, group and large-scale structures of galaxies and the determination of the physical processes that produce quasars and other active galactic nuclei. Jannuzi has been heavily involved with many major surveys of the universe, including the Hubble Space Telescope.
Astronomer, National Optical Astronomy Observatory
Tod Lauer is an EHT co-investigator and an astronomer on the research staff of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. He is an expert on methods of image processing and reconstruction. A large part of his research career has been to use the Hubble Space Telescope to identify and characterize super-massive black holes at the centers of nearby galaxies.
About EHT and PIRE
To see the unseen, it takes a telescope as big as Earth. During an observation run in April 2017, the EHT collected 5,000 trillion bytes, or 5 peta bytes — enough to populate a music playlist of high-quality mp3 files to last 4,700 years of playtime — over the course of just four nights.
To help scientists analyze and synchronize the torrential amounts of data generated by the EHT, the National Science Foundation has awarded $6 million over five years under a PIRE grant (Partnerships for International Research and Education), with partnering institutions around the world providing an additional $3 million. Headquartered at the University of Arizona, PIRE is a project to develop new technologies that enable scientists to store, transfer and make sense of unprecedented amounts of data, such as those generated by the globe-spanning telescope.
Under UA leadership, the PIRE team spearheads the development of computational resources specifically designed to unlock the groundbreaking scientific discoveries the EHT is expected to make over its lifetime. The PIRE project is expected to spin off emerging technologies with applications ranging from self-driving cars and renewable energy production to augmented reality and national defense.
Content from the UA
Black Holes Come to the Big Screen | UANews
Coverage by the Media
Black Hole Apocalypse | PBS
UA Focused on Project to Get First Images of Black Holes | Arizona Public Media
Animation Black Holes | Massive Science
A Black Hole Looks Like What? | Vox.com