132: What did the Event Horizon Telescope Discover? Chat with Heino Falcke: black holes, polarization EHT


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The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) just made a MAJOR Discovery about Black Holes. Chat with Heino Falcke, author of LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS, about what it all means. Light is an oscillating electromagnetic wave. If the waves have a preferred direction of oscillation, they are polarized. In space, moving hot gas, or ‘plasma’, threaded by a magnetic field emits polarized light. The polarized light rays that manage to escape the pull of the black hole travel to a distant camera. The intensity of those light rays and their direction is what we observe with the Event Horizon Telescope.


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Magnetic fields around black holes can launch powerful plasma jets with almost speed of light. They force electrons to gyrate and emit radio waves. This forces the light to oscillate perpendicular to the field lines.

On 24 March 2021 the EHT collaboration revealed a breakthrough discovery: the Event Horizon Telescope has imaged polarized light close to the shadow of M87* for the very first time. Using this knowledge, we can map out the magnetic fields that surround the black hole, and connect them to the powerful jet of plasma it ejects.

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is an international collaboration that captured the first image of a black hole by creating a virtual Earth-sized telescope. To learn more, you can check out our website at https://eventhorizontelescope.org/​.


  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 05:00 What is the EHT?
  • 10:00 What is polarization?
  • 50:00 Learn about Heino's new book!

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