ASC provides the logistics to support scientists who imaged a black hole
On April 10, during a global press conference from Washington D.C., the National Science Foundation (NSF) released the first image ever recorded of a black hole.
Combining eight telescopes around the world into a single instrument, called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), scientists were able to form an Earth-sized virtual observatory with unprecedented sensitivity and resolution. The image captured was from light emitted 55 million years ago.
One of the eight EHT telescopes, the 10-meter South Pole Telescope (SPT), is located at NSF’s Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.
We at the Leidos Antarctic Support Contract (ASC) are proud to have provided the logistical support that enabled this scientific breakthrough.
“ASC is proud to work alongside these brilliant researchers; arranging their transportation to and from the South Pole, providing heat, IT services, food and living arrangements, not to mention the various construction repairs and upgrades required over the years,” said Esther Hill, Science and Technical Projects Services manager. “The support of our hard-working employees helps make the research carried out by the South Pole Telescope a reality.”
The South Pole, at the Earth’s axis, is an ideal location for many types of telescopes: at 9,300 feet above sea level, the cold, dry air doesn’t contain the levels of water vapor that would obscure viewing from elsewhere in the globe. The location at the Earth’s axis means there is no rising or setting of the constellations as you see anywhere else on the planet.
To capture the black hole image, SPT researchers and those with the other telescopes around the world had to simultaneously direct their instruments at the same location in the sky. Finding perfect weather at each location around the world took many attempts over several years. The image was successfully captured in April 2017.
First postulated by Albert Einstein, scientists had never been able to “see” a black hole, although they had theorized what it would look like. The reality met their expectations.
Read the NSF press release here and learn more about the South Pole Telescope here.