Chilean Senate awards medals to ALMA for contribution to first image of black hole
30 April 2019
On 17 April 2019, the Senate of Chile awarded the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) a medal for its instrumental role in capturing the first-ever image of a black hole. The picture, unveiled by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) on 10 April to enormous public interest and excitement, was created using data taken at eight radio telescopes around the world, including two in which ESO is a major partner: ALMA and APEX, the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment.
These telescopes’ location in the extremely dry conditions of the Atacama desert in Northern Chile is ideal for millimeter-submillimeter astronomy, and the large combined collecting area of the ALMA antennas was indispensable in achieving the unprecedented resolution and sensitivity required for this breakthrough.
In addition to recognising the role of the observatory as a whole, the Chilean Senate honoured seven scientists individually with medals for their work. Among them were Rubén Herrero-Illana, an ESO Fellow with duties at ALMA, and Hugo Messias, an ALMA Fellow with an ESO contract. For the last two years, Herrero-Illana and Messias have been involved in the preparation and execution of the EHT observations at ALMA, including performing observations from ALMA’s Operations Support Facility. They were also part of the group that calibrated the ALMA data and checked their quality before sending them to the VLBI (very-long-baseline interferometry) correlators at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Haystack Observatory and the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn.
ESO plays an integral role in ALMA, cooperating with North American and East Asian partners as well as the Republic of Chile to build and operate the array of 66 dishes.
- Press Release on First ever Image of a Black Hole
- ESOblog post by Rubén Herrero-Illana and Hugo Messias
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