The veryrocked our little minds in April, but not everyone was impressed. Some likened the fuzzy circular shape to . Now the race is on to one day deliver a sharper view of a black hole.
A team of researchers led by astronomer Freek Roelofs at Radboud University in the Netherlands is proposing the creation of the Event Horizon Imager, a space-based system consisting of two or three satellites in Earth orbit that could capture crisper black hole images. They detailed the concept in a paper just published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
The first black hole image came about through the collaborative efforts of the Event Horizon Telescope, a network of ground-based telescopes located around the world.
A space-based system wouldn't have to contend with Earth's atmosphere and would also be able to take advantage of larger distances between the orbiting telescopes. "We would be able to take images with a resolution more than five times what is possible with the EHT," Roelofs said.
The scientists created a simulated view of the Sagittarius A* black hole at the center of the Milky Way to give us an idea of what an Event Horizon Imager might be able to do and how it would compare with the Event Horizon Telescope.
The simulated image shows a more defined vision of a black hole. You wouldn't mistake if for a doughnut or a bagel, but it does bear a resemblance to a coffee ring.
There are challenges to creating a satellite system like this. "The concept demands that you must be able to ascertain the position and speed of the satellites very accurately," said researcher Volodymyr Kudriashov with the Radboud Radio Lab and the European Space Agency. "But we really believe that the project is feasible."
The Event Horizon Telescope project is continuing its groundbreaking work, but it may one day be joined by the next generation of black hole paparazzi -- in space.