The rumors that you have heard are true. And if you have not heard the rumors, you should check your Internet connection.
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has scheduled an important press conference for April 10, which involves the Horizon Telescope of the Event (EHT). They have not left and they have said it, but the ESO Media Advisor says they will do it, "they will give a press conference to present an innovative result of the EHT". If it is not a black hole, then well played THAT, well played.
But, of course, it will be to announce the first image of a black hole. That's what the Event Horizon Telescope is about. The EHT is an international effort to obtain the first image of a black hole, and they are doing it by creating a "virtual telescope" the size of Earth.
The virtual telescope is more appropriately called a very long baseline interferometer. What that means is that they have connected radio antennas from around the world to observe the same object. This creates what the telescope's nerds call "high angular resolution power." Basically, the greater the scope, the more details we can see. And no telescope is as big as the Earth, except the EHT.
What will the black hole be like?
In October 2018, EHT released a simulated image of what they think they will see. Keep in mind that scientists with EHT will actually capture images of the black hole's event horizon, because black holes do not allow any light to escape. But in some aspects, the event horizon is the commercial end of the black hole.
If it seems contradictory to say that there will be an image of a black hole and then say that there can not be an image of a black hole, we understand it.
Black holes have different parts, and once you understand their structure, you understand the supposed contradiction. When most people think of a black hole, what they are thinking about is the part called Singularity. This is the place where, we think, there is an infinite density. Everything that falls into a black hole goes here, and according to Einstein's General Relativity, this is where General Relativity breaks down. So it's fascinating.
The event horizon is directly on the perimeter of the Singularity, and is where the severity of the black hole is so strong that nothing can escape. It is the point of no return for everything, and it is the "black" part of the black hole. Then there are the sphere of photons, the relativistic jets, the more stable orbit and the accretion disk.
The good people of the ESO have kindly provided this detailed and magnificent infographic.
So now it should be clear why ESO calls its Earth-sized interferometer the "Event Horizon Telescope". They want images of the Event Horizon itself.
What's so great about an image of the event horizon?
Black holes are one of the most fascinating objects in nature, much more fascinating than even the blue dragon.
The EHT actually has two objectives, both black holes. The first is our own star A of Sagittarius (Sag. A *), the giant that lies at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. The second is the even more mbadive black hole in the galaxy M87.
There are a lot of theories about what black holes are and what they do. But there are more questions than anything else, and the EHT expects to answer some of them.
The main question is how does one really look? Once again, the problem is that we can not really see one. But we can see the energetic and energetic disk of material near the hole itself. And all that swirl creates a lot of X-rays and other high-energy radiations, which we can see. With luck, the EHT will be able to see the shadow of the black hole in all that light.
Another question is whether a black hole causes General Relativity to break. We think so, but the EHT will help us answer that. General relativity is incompatible with quantum physics, so something has to give way, and the point at which it gives could be the black hole.
Another question is, why do some black holes emit jets of material, while others do not? Our own black hole, Sag. A *, does not emit jets of material, while the other in the EHT's sight, in galaxy M87, does. Maybe the EHT will help answer that puzzling question.
In any case, it is only one more week until we discover what progress has been made with the EHT, and if we are closer to getting some answers.