Why is the hero of the “shooting” black hole photo in Chile?

Recently, the first black hole photo in human history (the image obtained by computer processing the data obtained by the astronomical telescope) has sensationalized the world. But few people know that the “camera”, the “big camera” of the “photographing” of the black hole photo, is what the Atacama Large Millimeter Wave/Submillimeter Array Telescope (ALMA) looks like. Why is Chile in the world a recognized astronomy in the world of astronomy? Observe an excellent place.

Today, all countries in the world have built large telescopes in Chile. The Wentefeng Observatory Station of the South American Astronomical Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences is also being built there, and may add luster to China in the large-scale astronomical international cooperation in the future.

Why is ALMA a “power camera”?

The “Event Vision Telescope” project, which was attended by researchers from many countries in the world, released the first black hole photo of humans on April 10. In the eight radio telescopes used in the project to jointly observe black holes, the role played by ALMA is crucial.

The ALMA project astronomer Violette Inpelizeri bluntly stated that this telescope is at the heart of the “Event Vision Telescope” project.

Wang Zhong, director of the South American Astronomical Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said in an interview that shooting a black hole photo would not work without ALMA.

Experts explained that because this telescope is not a simple radio telescope, it is composed of 66 parabolic antennas with a diameter of 7 to 12 meters to form a telescope array with a diameter of up to 16 kilometers, representing the most advanced observations of today’s international radio astronomy. The ability to improve the observation efficiency by an order of magnitude higher than that of the similar equipment owned by the previous countries, the resolution can exceed 10 times the Hubble telescope.

Lu Rusen, a researcher at the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences who participated in the “Event Vision Telescope” project, said that with such a highly sensitive sub-millimeter telescope launched in 2013, black hole imaging observations became possible.

“Black hole imaging requires observation of millimeter waves and submillimeter waves, which is what it is best at,” Wang Zhong said.

Why is Chile a “star-watching resort”?

Chile has the reputation of “the country of the stars”. The Atacama Desert has excellent astronomical observation conditions around the world. The number of sunny nights in the year can reach 320 days. The airflow is stable, the air is dry, and there is no light pollution. In addition, the Chilean government has long-term and stable support policies. Many countries will Large telescopes were built in Chile, and dozens of large projects were even built here.

In addition to ALMA, the next generation of the Great Telescope, which was built by the European Southern Observatory, is also being built in Chile. The telescope consists of 798 hexagonal small lenses spliced ​​into a main mirror with a diameter of 39.3 meters. The collection area is 978 square meters. It is expected to become the world’s largest optical telescope after completion in 2024.

The European Southern Observatory Chile representative Claudio Mello said in an interview: “The Great Telescope project is expected to invest 1.1 billion euros. The Chilean government and the community have been supporting the development of astronomy for decades and will be the zero-light pollution night sky. Resources to protect, this is also an important factor in our large projects in Chile.”

“The best site in the Northern Hemisphere is located in Hawaii, the southern hemisphere is in the Atacama Desert. The Milky Way Center is in the South Sky Zone. The closest Stargazer Magellanic Nebula from the Milky Way is also in the Nantian District. In the last decade, large telescopes were built in Hawaii, USA. Space is severely limited, and most of the world’s large telescopes are built in Chile,” Wang Zhong said.

China is not absent from the “Stargazing Resort”

Astronomical research output has made great progress as more and more large-scale astronomical observing equipment is put into use at Atacama. The astronomical observations of the “Cosmological Acceleration” of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics and the “Gravitational Wave Optics Correspondence” in 2017 were all observed or verified by the Observatory at Atacama.

The European Southern Observatory began construction of an astronomical observatory in Chile in 1963 and now has three astronomical observatories in the Atacama Desert. The United States also has an astronomical observatory in Chile. Japan and South Korea are also building their own telescopes in Chile.

In 2016, the National Astronomical Observatory and the Catholic University of Northern Chile signed an agreement to build an astronomical observation base in Atacama. Today, at the Wente Peak, which is only 30 kilometers away from the Great Telescope, the Wente Peak Observatory Station of the South American Astronomical Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences is under construction and has taken shape.

Large-scale astronomical telescope equipment has become one of the symbols of the country’s high-tech level and comprehensive national strength. Yan Jun, the former director of the National Astronomical Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the chief scientist of the lunar exploration engineering of the lunar exploration project, told reporters: “It is the common aspiration of Chinese astronomers to build a super-large optical telescope based in Italy.”