Photographing a black hole: Special guest panel

Andrew Chael

First results from the Event Horizon Telescope

Black holes are believed to lie at the centers of galaxies, with masses of millions to billions times that of Earth's sun shrouded behind an event horizon. While their gravitational pull is so strong that even photons cannot escape, they are predicted to cast a circular “shadow” upon bright emission from nearby material, which is heated to billions of degrees. 

Recently, an international team has built an Earth-sized telescope in hopes of testing general relativity by seeing if this shadow exists. The first results from this Event Horizon Telescope will be released on Wednesday, April 10 at 9am  EDT at a live NSF press conference.

On April 12, members of the Event Horizon Telescope team from MIT and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) will be at the Media Lab to discuss what the first Event Horizon Telescope results have revealed!  

Hosted by Professor Joe Paradiso.


Michael Johnson is an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian. He received BS degrees in mathematics and physics from the University of Southern California, and a PhD in physics from UCSB, where he studied pulsars and interstellar scattering. Michael joined the Event Horizon Telescope in 2013 and currently leads the EHT Imaging Working Group. In 2018, he was awarded the Secretary’s Research Award from the Smithsonian for his work developing new algorithms to reconstruct movies from interferometric data. He has contributed broadly across the EHT project, from imaging methods, to magnetic field polarimetry, to the scattering and time-evolution of black holes.

Lindy Blackburn is a radio astronomer and EHT data scientist at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian. He received a BS in physics and mathematics from the University of Chicago, and a PhD in physics from MIT, working with the LIGO experiment. Lindy joined the Event Horizon Telescope in 2014 and leads the Data Calibration and Error Analysis efforts that provide the processed data from which EHT images are derived. He works on end-to-end aspects of the data pipeline, from instrumental acquisition, through processing, instrumental modeling, and statistical interpretation.

Vincent Fish is a research scientist at MIT Haystack Observatory. He received SB degrees in physics, mathematics, and Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences from MIT (‘97), and a PhD in astronomy from Harvard, where he studies astronomical masers in star-forming regions using very long baseline interferometry (VLBI). After a Jansky Fellowship at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, he joined MIT Haystack Observatory in 2007, working on the EHT. Vincent serves on the EHT Science Council and co-leads the Science Operations Working Group. His work currently focuses on planning, scheduling, and executing observations, along with examining the data and resolving issues uncovered during correlation and calibration.

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