back to article Plan hatched to view Milky Way's black hole heart

A conference being held this week in Arizona will lay the groundwork for an attempt to visualize the supermassive black hole that resides at the heart of our galaxy. Since a black hole absorbs light itself, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) team is looking for the ring of matter that forms around the perimeter of the structure …


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  1. Jim O'Reilly

    A use for the Moon?

    If we are lacking radio telescope resolution, why not extend the Very Long Baseline Array all the way to the Moon. A couple of dishes on the far-side would really boost resolving power. Being away from interference wouldn't hurt, either.

    Now that's something for NASA to do!

    The Moon would be a good place to park an infra-red scope, too. 15 days out of the Sun!

    1. FredScummer

      I don't know about NASA specifically, but as an international development I think it could have legs.

      A telesccope on the far side of the moon would be good, but presumably blind 50% of every day when it is facing the sun? I imagine it would also be unbelievably hot during that time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >"I think it could have legs"

        That's called a tripod!

      2. Mike Bell

        Re Far Side of the Moon

        Not such a great place for an optical telescope, due to large temperature fluctuations. There are, however, certain polar craters on the Moon that are in permanent darkness–and thus very cold stable conditions– which makes for good seeing.

        As for radio astronomy, aren't the receivers largely unaffected by solar radiation? If so, I guess you could place one wherever you like on the Moon to give you extremely long baseline interferometry.

    2. MacroRodent

      Better floating in space

      Yes, you should have one or more telescopes far from Earth, but wouldn't it be better to have them floating free (like in one of the Lagrange points), so they can be aimed in any direction? I also wonder if having any astronomical instruments on the surface of the Moon is a good idea because of the dust. Although there is no wind, there is evidence some of the dust floats because of electrostatic charge. ( .

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ A use for the Moon?

      and what about the dust?

      what size chamois cloth would we need?

  2. Robert E A Harvey


    Karl Schwarzschild surely?

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    "the team is looking for the ring of matter that forms around the perimeter of the structure"

    I would say calling an 4-D "finger from the future" that is literally the edge of spacetime a "structure" is playing fast and loose with language.

    Anyways. Greg Egan used the ominous-sounding name "Goudal-e-Markaz" for this ... place ... in his novel "Incandescence". This is evidently Persian, if anyone knows what it means, please translate.

    1. Kamal Hashmi


      Literally "Pit at Center"

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unique spot

    Seems like this would be a good place to look for super advanced alien technology. As a unique place in the galaxy it's probably got unique potential.

    1. MD Rackham

      Let me guess... work in real estate.

      Tout the "entry so long it takes forever to get in!" but not make any mention of the tidal forces.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I imagine if you have the tech to get thier

        You have the tech to exploit its pull rather than it be a hinderance.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Letter to Dr Doelman

    Thank you for your explanation Dr Doelman, let me point out however 2 problems.

    Problem 1) The use of goldilocks in a sentence creates a so called goldilocks word.

    It is not quite annoying enough for people to stop using it and it is not quite overused enough to become a meme.

    Instead its a glib phrase which astronomers use in a desperate bid to relate to the public, where clear explanations would suffice.

    Let's be clear it's not a goldilocks blackhole, it's a f-off massive bl**dy blackhole and possibly the biggest in our galaxy.

    Problem 2) Overuse of analogy to the point of confusion.

    Why on earth compare a blackhole to a baby. I can't think of any 2 items that are less analogous (including chalk and cheese). The best that can happen is the public get the wrong idea about your profession.

    Finally Dr Doelman, don't demean yourself or us by doing either of these things again.

    Thank you

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Why on earth compare a blackhole to a baby".... Because both are messy "eaters" - Makes Sense.

      "Let's be clear it's not a goldilocks blackhole" ... Its just big enough, and just far enough away to see. - Doesnt make as much sense, but isnt a million miles out.

      Stop being a dick.

    2. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      I agree

      "Why on earth compare a blackhole to a baby."

      Yes, it's absolutely ridiculous and wrong. Everybody knows that black holes actually eat like puppies.

      1. Thomas 4


        I'd have to say a blackhole actually eats like my cat, given how often the wretched creature pesters me for food.

        1. Hardcastle the ancient

          Odd sort of cat

          Cats I know pester for food, then leave it untouched. I reckon they get nourishment by staring at food.

  6. Asgard

    @“Black holes are like babies"

    Wow that's one massive over filled nappy we are all very happy to be light years away from!

  7. kyza
    Paris Hilton

    Too many shiny things?

    I thought the biggest issue with observing the galactic core was the sheer volume of activity and density of stars present that create issues for optical and radio-based observation?

    Also - wouldn't it be more appropriate to describe such a monster as an 'Alice' black hole rather than 'Goldilocks'? Yes, I know why he's used Goldilocks - not too big, not too small - altho the former somewhat contradicts what Doelman says about 'hunting big game' - presumably the bigger a black hole the better?

    Paris, for puerile, sexist reasons when talking about giant black holes.

  8. James 36

    messy eater

    I always get confused at this point,

    I thought that as light couldn't escape a black hole then nothing can

    so how come it chucks load of stuff around the galaxy if nothing can escape it or is the first statement an oversimplification which has left me confused

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      If something big like a star comes close to a black hole it is torn apart by tidal forces, some part of it fall in but other parts get gravity assist instead and are thrown away before they cross the event horizon...

    2. vilemeister

      The same way a spacecraft can use a planet or the Sun to slingshot itself across the Solar System without using much fuel at all.

    3. eulampios


      I guess what is meant is when gas gets close to it also goes to the mouth of the BH. However before being consumed it circles around with astounding velocities. This is what makes gas illuminate, not necessarily in the visible spectrum though.

      Actually, the discovery or confirmation of the fact that the object Sag. A is a supermassive black hole comes from the observation of many stars (and gas) making acrobatic stunts with tiny trajectories around a small invisible object -- thanks to Kepler's Laws with Newton's mechanics...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    " big enough to be visible."


  10. Lord Midas

    About time as well

    I was wondering when some boffins would actually take notice of the centre of our Galaxy.

    Perhaps they'll find remnents of some super god like dude that Kirk blasted to smithereens?

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