Episode 5 (Special Edition): Event Horizon Telescope – First Results

with Dr Roger Deane and Dr Rhodri Evans

On 10 April 2019 six simultaneous press conferences around the world broadcast the first results from the Event Horizon Telescope – a project that was designed to take the first-ever image of a black hole.

We were fortunate to speak with two scientists involved with the project Dr Rhodri Evans a senior lecturer in physics & astrophysics at the University of Namibia, and Dr Roger Deane, Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Pretoria.

Roger spoke to us via Skype from Brussels where he was for the announcement and explained the exciting result and Africa’s involvement in the project.

Rhodri spoke with us before the announcement at the recent Astronomy in Africa conference about plans to build a telescope in Namibia to join the EHT Network.

The EHT Array
This artist’s impression depicts a rapidly spinning supermassive black hole surrounded by an accretion disc. This thin disc of rotating material consists of the leftovers of a Sun-like star which was ripped apart by the tidal forces of the black hole. Shocks in the colliding debris as well as heat generated in accretion led to a burst of light, resembling a supernova explosion.
Simulated Image from INTERSTELLAR, from Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers Pictures, in association with Legendary Pictures.

Episode Links:
Press Release:
EHT: https://eventhorizontelescope.org

This week’s guests:

Episode 4: Black holes and Radio Jets

with Dr Imogen Whittam and Lerato Sebokolodi

Episode 4 features Dr Imogen Whittam, a SARAO Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of the Western Cape and Lerato Sebokolodi a PhD student, based at SARAO and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in the USA.

Imogen talks about her work on Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN), stemming from the super-massive black holes that reside at the centre of most galaxies and how we learn how these massive beasts work.

Lerato chats about one AGN in particular, the famous Cygnus A and her work on the magnetic fields that drive the formation of the beautiful jets pictured below.

An image taken at radio wavelengths of the dramatic jets of charged particles being ejected from the nucleus of the galaxy Cygnus A. Image credit: NRAO/AU.

Episode Links:
SARAO: https://www.ska.ac.za/about/sarao/
UWC: http://astro.uwc.ac.za/
NRAO: https://public.nrao.edu/
MeerKAT: https://www.ska.ac.za/science-engineering/meerkat/about-meerkat/
JVLA: https://science.nrao.edu/facilities/vla

This week’s guests:

Episode 3: SETI with MeerKAT

with Dr Griffin Foster

In this episode Dr Griffin Foster describes the planned hunt for extraterrestrial intelligence with South Africa’s MeerKAT telescope!

Griffin is from the University of Oxford and is the project scientist for Breakthrough Listen – a program to hunt for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence using radio telescopes.

Griffin explains, in a surprisingly down-to-earth and practical way, why we might expect intelligent extraterrestrial lifeforms to exist elsewhere in the Universe, how they might be trying to communicate and how we might search for these signals.

Griffin and the Breakthrough Listen team plan to conduct part of their search with the new MeerKAT radio telescope. MeerKAT is one of the world’s most advanced radio telescopes and is located in the Karoo in South Africa.

Episode Links:

BL@MeerKAT announcement: https://breakthroughinitiatives.org/news/23

Berkeley SETI Research Center: http://seti.berkeley.edu/

This week’s guest: