Seeing the Unseeable: Capturing an Image of a Black Hole

A Free Science Lecture Open to the Public

Led by Dr. Sheperd Doeleman, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project made history by capturing an image of the event horizon of a black hole, where gravity is so strong that even light cannot escape. You are invited to hear Dr. Doeleman speak about the results of this accomplishment and the steps it took to get there.

This lecture is free and open to the public. All are welcome.

Seeing the Unseeable

Black holes are cosmic objects so small and dense that nothing, not even light, can escape their gravitational pull. Until recently, no one had ever seen what a black hole actually looked like. Einstein's theories predicted that a distant observer might see a ring of light encircling the black hole, formed when radiation emitted by infalling hot gas is lensed by the extreme gravity near the event horizon.

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is a global array of radio dishes, linked together by a network of atomic clocks, that form an Earth-sized virtual telescope that can resolve the nearest supermassive black holes where this ring feature may be measured. On April 10, 2019, the EHT project reported success: we have imaged a black hole, and have seen the predicted strong gravitational lensing that confirms the theory of General Relativity at the boundary of a black hole. This talk will cover how this was accomplished, details of the first results, as well as some future directions.

About Sheperd Doeleman

Sheperd Doeleman

Sheperd S. Doeleman is an Astrophysicist at the Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Director of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a synchronized global array of radio observatories designed to examine the nature of black holes. He is also a Harvard Senior Research Fellow and a project co-leader of Harvard's recently established Black Hole Initiative (BHI). The BHI is a first-of-its-kind interdisciplinary program at the university that brings together the disciplines of Astronomy, Physics, Mathematics, Philosophy, and History of Science to define and establish black hole science as a new field of study. See full bio.