Black Holes, Moon Maps and Blood Pressure: UArizona's Top Stories of 2019
What does a black hole look like? Can thinking about a loved one lower your blood pressure? How can failure be optimized? University of Arizona research examined these questions and more in 2019.

By Nick Prevenas, University Communications
Dec. 18, 2019


On April 10, EHT researchers revealed the first direct visual evidence of the supermassive black hole in the center of Messier 87 and its shadow.
On April 10, EHT researchers revealed the first direct visual evidence of the supermassive black hole in the center of Messier 87 and its shadow. (Image: EHT Collaboration)

The University of Arizona found itself at the center of many of the world's most captivating news stories in 2019. From its leadership role in capturing mankind's first image of a black hole to developing innovative ways to maximize food production and energy efficiency, UArizona-led research generated international headlines this year.

Here are 10 of the university's most impactful stories from 2019:

Chasing Einstein's Shadow: UArizona Helps Capture First Image of a Black Hole: April 10

With the help of two radio telescopes coordinated by the University of Arizona, astronomers took the first direct image of a black hole. By connecting radio telescopes across five continents into one Earth-sized virtual telescope, they managed to resolve the shadow of a supermassive black hole, a prediction of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Twenty-one students expanded their educations by participating in efforts to see the unseen with the Event Horizon Telescope. Science News named it the No. 1 science story of 2019. (NPR, Los Angeles Times, CBS News)

UArizona Expertise Key in Mapping Moon's Surface: June 4-July 22

A University of Arizona team imaged and mapped the surface of the moon, which allowed them and NASA to understand the moon's geology and choose landing sites for future robotic and Apollo missions. Now, university scientists are busy mapping worlds throughout our solar system. (NBC News, CNN, The Conversation)

X Marks the Spot: NASA Selects Site for Asteroid Sample Collection: Dec. 12

The OSIRIS-REx mission team evaluated data from four candidate sites in order to identify site Nightingale as the best option for the sample collection, with site Osprey named as the backup. (The New York Times, CBS News, Gizmodo)

Cosmic Yeti from the Dawn of the Universe Found Lurking in Dust: Oct. 22

The early universe is filled with monsters, a new study reveals. Researchers led by astronomer Christina Williams discovered a previously invisible galaxy, and perhaps a new galaxy population waiting to be discovered. (CNN, Fox News, New York Post)

Fighting Human Disease with Birth Control… for Mosquitoes: Jan. 8

Researchers at the University of Arizona have discovered a protein that prevents mosquitoes from hatching, opening the possibility of developing new drugs that could act as birth control for mosquito populations. (Reuters, Daily Mail, ABC News)

Having a Partner Present – or in Mind – May Keep Blood Pressure Down: Jan. 17

Visualizing your significant other may be just as helpful as having them in the room with you when it comes to managing the body's cardiovascular response to stress. (Reddit, New York Post, Big Think)

Learning is Optimized When We Fail 15% of the Time: Nov. 5

To learn new things, we must sometimes fail. But what's the right amount of failure? Research led by the University of Arizona proposes a mathematical answer to that question. Educators and educational scholars have long recognized that there is something of a "sweet spot" when it comes to learning. That is, we learn best when we are challenged to grasp something just outside the bounds of our existing knowledge. When a challenge is too simple, we don't learn anything new; likewise, we don't enhance our knowledge when a challenge is so difficult that we fail entirely or give up. (Newsweek, NBC's "Today," The Huffington Post)

600 Trillion Suns Light up the Dawn of the Universe: Jan. 9

Two telescopes managed by the University of Arizona have aided in the serendipitous discovery of the brightest quasar ever seen in the early universe, which suggests there could be a "hidden" population of such objects waiting to be discovered. (USA Today, LiveScience, Popular Mechanics)

Agrivoltaics Proves Mutually Beneficial Across Food, Water, Energy Nexus: Sept. 2

Building resilience in renewable energy and food production is a fundamental challenge in today's changing world, especially in regions susceptible to heat and drought. Agrivoltaics, the co-locating of agriculture and solar photovoltaic panels, offers a possible solution, with new University of Arizona-led research reporting positive impacts on food production, water savings and the efficiency of electricity production. (Mother Jones, The Washington Post, Ars Technica)

College of Veterinary Medicine Receives AVMA Approval: Oct. 17

The University of Arizona received a Letter of Reasonable Assurance from the American Veterinary Medical Association, paving the way for the opening of state's first public College of Veterinary Medicine. (The Associated Press, The Arizona Republic, Today's Veterinary Business)

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