Get Ready for Pictures of Black Holes

BEACON TRANSCRIPTNobody has seen pictures of black holes before. All the images of what we are lead to believe are black holes, are in fact just artistic interpretations of what people think they look like. But the reality is that not one human has actually seen a black hole with its own eyes. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) might soon change that.

A team of MIT scientists has developed an algorithm that could finally lead to taking pictures of black holes. Black holes are one of Universe’s great mysteries, yet to be fully discovered and understood. They are regions of spacetime that manifest a strong gravitational effect that sucks everything inside them – not even light an escape. And it is because light cannot get out, that people can’t see the enigmatic black holes.

"Get Ready for Pictures of Black Holes"

An artist’s interpretation of what a black hole looks like.

Seeing black holes would only be possible through a telescope with a 10,000 diameter. This is impossible to construct, given that it would end up being roughly the size of the Earth. This is why scientists try to put together data collected from radio telescopes located in different areas of the Globe.

The MIT group determined to finally take a glimpse of black holes has developed the Continuous High-resolution Image Reconstruction using Patch priors (CHIRP) algorithm to solve the “puzzle”. CHIRP is based on interferometry, a technique combining atmospheric signals captured by different telescopes and tamper them with each other.

Today, we have other algorithms trying to reveal what very-long-baseline interferometry data looks like, but the pictures created by them are blurry. This is why we are currently not able to see pictures of black holes. These algorithms also cannot handle large amounts of data. That’s where CHIRP shines because it only picks the relevant data and turns it into sharper pictures.

The team is now eager to get all the Event Horizon Telescope data and further update the algorithm. They plan on including factors such as the changing of black holes over time, or their magnetic fields. The scientists’ ultimate goal is to film black holes as they’re “eating” materials in space.

The MIT team will show off their groundbreaking algorithm at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) this June.