The BlackHoleCam (BHCam)
The BlackHoleCam (BHCam) project aims to create the first accurate image of a black hole. Our research will test the predictions of current gravitational theories, in particular Einstein’s theory of General Relativity (GR), which has survived almost 100 years of extensive testing.
One of the main goals of the BHCam project is to capture an image of Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the centre of our Galaxy (with a mass of about four millions solar masses). So how can we catch it on camera? Our team plans to compose an image of the “shadow” of the event horizon – the “one-way” membrane around a black hole that defines the boundary where light can enter, but not leave.
Matter pulled into this region generates electromagnetic radiation, including high-frequency radio waves. These waves will be picked up by receivers in radio telescopes around the world and combined to create a composite image of Sagittarius A*. For this purpose, along with our internationl partners, we are building a global “Event Horizon Telescope (EHT)”. In addition, we want to use the same telescopes to find and measure pulsars, highly accurate natural clocks in space, around Sagittarius A*. This will allow us to determine the deformation of space and time caused by a black hole with extreme precision.
The results will be compared to detailed supercomputer simulations to ultimately determine whether Einstein was actually right. 100 years on, some of the most exotic predictions of GR may finally be tested.
BHCam is a project funded through a “Synergy Grant” awarded by the European Research Council (ERC) to a team of European astrophysicists, in partnership with the Event Horizon Telescope project and other international partners.