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Dark Star Diaries
  • Finding

    Finding "Fringes": New Event Horizon Telescope Detections Start Trickling In

    By Seth Fletcher | May 22, 2015 |

    The technique that the astronomers of the Event Horizon Telescope  (EHT) use to observe black holes is called Very Long Baseline Interferometry , or VLBI, but it might as well be called Extremely Delayed Gratification Astronomy: it can take weeks or months after an observing run to find out whether the telescope array actually saw anything. […]

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  • Building an Earth-Size Telescope, 1 Station at a Time

    Building an Earth-Size Telescope, 1 Station at a Time

    By Seth Fletcher | April 20, 2015 |

    The Large Millimeter Telescope in the Mexican state of Puebla Imagine a trio of aerobatic aircraft. Over the years they’ve gotten very good at their routine. But they want to add another five or six or seven members. They also want to upgrade from propeller planes to jets, with custom engines and digital avionics. […]

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  • Hunting Black Holes at the South Pole

    Hunting Black Holes at the South Pole

    By Seth Fletcher | February 26, 2015 |

    The South Pole Telescope. Credit: Daniel Luong-Van, National Science Foundation Each of the telescopes that the astronomers of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) are currently working to bring into their black-hole-observing, planet-size array is a special case. […]

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  • Quasars, Black Holes, and the Origins of “Intercontinental Radio Astronomy”

    Quasars, Black Holes, and the Origins of “Intercontinental Radio Astronomy”

    By Seth Fletcher | December 9, 2014 |

    Not long ago I came across a piece in the Scientific American archives from the earliest days of very-long baseline radio interferometry, the technique employed by the Event Horizon Telescope . As readers of this blog will know, the Event Horizon Telescope is a planet-size array of radio telescopes , currently being developed, that will soon be used to image the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. […]

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  • The Black Hole in Interstellar Looks Amazingly Realistic

    The Black Hole in Interstellar Looks Amazingly Realistic

    By Seth Fletcher | October 23, 2014 |

    Wired has a fun piece about physicist and black-hole guru Kip Thorne’s work on the film Interstellar , which comes out November 7. We’ve known the premise of the film for a long time: Earth is a disaster, the human race is on the verge of extinction, and mankind must find a new home. […]

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  • Giving ALMA a Heart Transplant

    Giving ALMA a Heart Transplant

    By Seth Fletcher | August 11, 2014 |

    The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). Credit: ESO/C. Malin Before they can see Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, the astronomers of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) must complete an epic to-do list. […]

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  • Time Travel: Installing an Atomic Clock at 15,000 Feet

    Time Travel: Installing an Atomic Clock at 15,000 Feet

    By Seth Fletcher | June 10, 2014 |

    The Large Millimeter Telescope in the Mexican state of Puebla A few months ago I went to Cambridge, Mass. to check in with the Event Horizon Telescope crew and found Shep Doeleman, the project leader, fresh off the completion of a major purchase. […]

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  • Cloud Bound for Milky Way's Black Hole Puzzles Astronomers

    Cloud Bound for Milky Way's Black Hole Puzzles Astronomers

    By Seth Fletcher | May 2, 2014 |

    A simulation of the G2 dust cloud approaching the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Stellar orbits around the black hole are traced in blue. Credit: M. Schartmann and L. Calcada/ European Southern Observatory and Max-Planck-Institut fur Extraterrestrische Physik. […]

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  • How to Build an Earth-Size Telescope

    How to Build an Earth-Size Telescope

    By Seth Fletcher | April 11, 2014 |

    This is how Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, "sees" the Event Horizon Telescope. The red lines trace the baselines between the EHT's constituent stations. Looking into the galactic center is hard. So much dust and gas lies between us and the center of the Milky Way that very little of the visible light emitted there makes it to us. […]

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  • How to See a Black Hole: Introducing Dark Star Diaries

    How to See a Black Hole: Introducing Dark Star Diaries

    By Seth Fletcher | March 27, 2014 |

    Image courtesy Avery Broderick at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and the University of Waterloo The image you see here is a computer-generated model of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, which we call Sagittarius A*. More precisely, it is a model of the “shadow” that Sagittarius A*, with its mass of four million suns, should cast. […]

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