Multi-telescope view two million times sharper than human eye reveals black hole
Scientists spaced thousands of miles apart discovered a super massive black hole inside a quasar some five billion light-years from Earth
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For the new quasar study, astronomers created a huge triangle of telescopes on Earth using the three different instruments. The distance between the Chile and Hawaii telescopes is 5,870 miles (9,447 kilometers), with the baseline from Chile to Arizona extending across 4,458 miles (7,174 km). The baseline from Arizona back to Hawaii was 2,875 miles (4,627 km).Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Looking into the skies: Telescopes
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The telescopes also observed the quasar at extremely short wavelength, making it the shortest wavelength ever observed using such a large baseline array, researchers said.
Altogether, the telescope array was reached a resolution of just 8 billionths of a degree arc in the night sky. For comparison, your closed fist held out at arm's length covers about 10 full degrees in the sky.
ESO officials said the new look at quasar 3C 279 marks a major step forward for an even more ambitious interferometry-based project called the Event Horizon Telescope. That project aims to combine more telescopes to create an even more powerful very long baseline array, one that could ultimately reveal the shadow of the supermassive black hole at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy.
"The shadow — a dark region seen against a brighter background — is caused by the bending of light by the black hole, and would be the first direct observational evidence for the existence of a black hole’s event horizon, the boundary from within which not even light can escape," ESO officials said.
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