Universiteit Leiden

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Anna van Kooij

Huib van Langevelde new director Event Horizon Telescope

The Leiden astronomer Huib van Langevelde) has been selected as the new director of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). The EHT is a collaboration involving about 350 scientists from 18 countries. It combines the ALMA array in Chile with sub-millimeter telescopes around the world and published the first image of a Black Hole in 2019.

Telescope as big as the world

Ever since his PhD research, Van Langevelde has been focused on what is happening in the centre of our Galaxy. He is currently Professor of galactic radio astronomy in at the Leiden Observatory and also works at JIVE. At JIVE he became an expert in Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), the technique used by the EHT. With this technique, astronomers create images with extreme resolution by synchronizing the images of telescopes all around the world. This way, a telescope as big as the whole planet is created to make observations at millimetre wavelength.

The EHT was assembled to obtain images of the supermassive black holes at the centres of the galaxy M87 and the Milky Way, where Sagittarius A* is situated. In 2019, the consortium observations of M87 resulted in the very first image of a black hole.

Dutch expertise

Van Langevelde is ready for the new challenge: ‘I will be overseeing a complex, global collaboration of scientists with a range of cultures and ambitions. We need to bundle all their expertise in order to achieve exciting new results.’

In this new role, Van Langevelde will be supported by a joint effort of institutes in the Netherlands which are already contributing to the project with specific expertise, for example in the use of the ALMA telescope, the VLBI technique and the astrophysics of black holes.

In particular, astronomers at the Radboud University (the groups led by Heino Falcke and Monika Moscibrodzka) and University of Amsterdam (the groups led by Sera Markoff and Oliver Porth) are involved in the project. The Dutch ALMA centre of expertise, Allegro, is hosted at Leiden University.

JIVE, which receives funding from NWO and ASTRON, is a European institute providing access to the European VLBI Network and has also developed software that is used for EHT data processing. In Groningen, the NOVA group develops sub-millimetre receivers for the ALMA telescope.

Van Langevelde succeeds American astrophysicist Shep Doelman as director of EHT.

See original press release on: www.astronomie.nl

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