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The Event Horizon Telescope Project announced that it has captured the first image of a black hole. The feature is located at the center of Messier 87 – a giant elliptical galaxy in the constellation Virgo. News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian spoke with University of Illinois physics and astronomy professor Charles Gammie, who heads up the theory working group for the large, multi-institutional collaboration.

  • Research
  • Astrophysics
  • Astronomy

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT)—a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration—was designed to capture images of a black hole. Today, in coordinated press conferences around the globe, EHT researchers revealed that they have succeeded, unveiling the first direct visual evidence of a supermassive black hole and its shadow.

The image reveals the black hole at the center of Messier 87 (M87)1, a massive galaxy in the nearby Virgo galaxy cluster. This black hole resides 55 million light-years from Earth and has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the Sun2.

  • Accolades

Thirty-eight research groups at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been allocated new computation time on the Blue Waters supercomputer at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF). This round of allocations provides over 17 million node-hours, equivalent to over half a billion core hours, and is valued at over $10.5 million, helping Illinois researchers push the boundaries of innovation and frontier science discovery.

  • Accolades
  • Astrophysics/Cosmology
  • Astrophysics
  • Cosmology

Professor Charles Gammie has been named a 2015 Simons Fellow in Theoretical Physics by the Simons Foundation.

Gammie, who has joint appointments in astronomy and physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will use the fellowship to continue his leading-edge theoretical work in black hole astrophysics, while on sabbatical next academic year at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. While abroad, Gammie will also enjoy an appointment as a visiting fellow at All Souls College in Oxford, for the fall (Michaelmas) term.