Publications

2019
The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration. 4/10/2019. “First M87 Event Horizon Telescope Results. I. The Shadow of the Supermassive Black Hole.” ApJL, 875, L1, Pp. 1-17. Publisher's VersionAbstract
When surrounded by a transparent emission region, black holes are expected to reveal a dark shadow caused by gravitational light bending and photon capture at the event horizon. To image and study this phenomenon, we have assembled the Event Horizon Telescope, a global very long baseline interferometry array observing at a wavelength of 1.3 mm. This allows us to reconstruct event-horizon-scale images of the supermassive black hole candidate in the center of the giant elliptical galaxy M87. We have resolved the central compact radio source as an asymmetric bright emission ring with a diameter of 42 ± 3 μas, which is circular and encompasses a central depression in brightness with a flux ratio gsim10:1. The emission ring is recovered using different calibration and imaging schemes, with its diameter and width remaining stable over four different observations carried out in different days. Overall, the observed image is consistent with expectations for the shadow of a Kerr black hole as predicted by general relativity. The asymmetry in brightness in the ring can be explained in terms of relativistic beaming of the emission from a plasma rotating close to the speed of light around a black hole. We compare our images to an extensive library of ray-traced general-relativistic magnetohydrodynamic simulations of black holes and derive a central mass of M = (6.5 ± 0.7) × 109 M⊙. Our radio-wave observations thus provide powerful evidence for the presence of supermassive black holes in centers of galaxies and as the central engines of active galactic nuclei. They also present a new tool to explore gravity in its most extreme limit and on a mass scale that was so far not accessible.
The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration. 4/10/2019. “First M87 Event Horizon Telescope Results. II. Array and Instrumentation.” ApJL, 875, L2, Pp. 1-28. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is a very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) array that comprises millimeter- and submillimeter-wavelength telescopes separated by distances comparable to the diameter of the Earth. At a nominal operating wavelength of ~1.3 mm, EHT angular resolution (λ/D) is ~25 μas, which is sufficient to resolve nearby supermassive black hole candidates on spatial and temporal scales that correspond to their event horizons. With this capability, the EHT scientific goals are to probe general relativistic effects in the strong-field regime and to study accretion and relativistic jet formation near the black hole boundary. In this Letter we describe the system design of the EHT, detail the technology and instrumentation that enable observations, and provide measures of its performance. Meeting the EHT science objectives has required several key developments that have facilitated the robust extension of the VLBI technique to EHT observing wavelengths and the production of instrumentation that can be deployed on a heterogeneous array of existing telescopes and facilities. To meet sensitivity requirements, high-bandwidth digital systems were developed that process data at rates of 64 gigabit s−1, exceeding those of currently operating cm-wavelength VLBI arrays by more than an order of magnitude. Associated improvements include the development of phasing systems at array facilities, new receiver installation at several sites, and the deployment of hydrogen maser frequency standards to ensure coherent data capture across the array. These efforts led to the coordination and execution of the first Global EHT observations in 2017 April, and to event-horizon-scale imaging of the supermassive black hole candidate in M87.
The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration. 4/10/2019. “First M87 Event Horizon Telescope Results. III. Data Processing and Calibration.” ApJL, 875, L3, Pp. 1-32. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We present the calibration and reduction of Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) 1.3 mm radio wavelength observations of the supermassive black hole candidate at the center of the radio galaxy M87 and the quasar 3C 279, taken during the 2017 April 5–11 observing campaign. These global very long baseline interferometric observations include for the first time the highly sensitive Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA); reaching an angular resolution of 25 μas, with characteristic sensitivity limits of ~1 mJy on baselines to ALMA and ~10 mJy on other baselines. The observations present challenges for existing data processing tools, arising from the rapid atmospheric phase fluctuations, wide recording bandwidth, and highly heterogeneous array. In response, we developed three independent pipelines for phase calibration and fringe detection, each tailored to the specific needs of the EHT. The final data products include calibrated total intensity amplitude and phase information. They are validated through a series of quality assurance tests that show consistency across pipelines and set limits on baseline systematic errors of 2% in amplitude and 1° in phase. The M87 data reveal the presence of two nulls in correlated flux density at ~3.4 and ~8.3 Gλ and temporal evolution in closure quantities, indicating intrinsic variability of compact structure on a timescale of days, or several light-crossing times for a few billion solar-mass black hole. These measurements provide the first opportunity to image horizon-scale structure in M87.
The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration. 4/10/2019. “First M87 Event Horizon Telescope Results. IV. Imaging the Central Supermassive Black Hole.” ApJL, 875, L4, Pp. 1-52. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We present the first Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) images of M87, using observations from April 2017 at 1.3 mm wavelength. These images show a prominent ring with a diameter of ~40 μas, consistent with the size and shape of the lensed photon orbit encircling the "shadow" of a supermassive black hole. The ring is persistent across four observing nights and shows enhanced brightness in the south. To assess the reliability of these results, we implemented a two-stage imaging procedure. In the first stage, four teams, each blind to the others' work, produced images of M87 using both an established method (CLEAN) and a newer technique (regularized maximum likelihood). This stage allowed us to avoid shared human bias and to assess common features among independent reconstructions. In the second stage, we reconstructed synthetic data from a large survey of imaging parameters and then compared the results with the corresponding ground truth images. This stage allowed us to select parameters objectively to use when reconstructing images of M87. Across all tests in both stages, the ring diameter and asymmetry remained stable, insensitive to the choice of imaging technique. We describe the EHT imaging procedures, the primary image features in M87, and the dependence of these features on imaging assumptions.
The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration. 4/10/2019. “First M87 Event Horizon Telescope Results. V. Physical Origin of the Asymmetric Ring.” ApJL, 875, L5, Pp. 1-31. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) has mapped the central compact radio source of the elliptical galaxy M87 at 1.3 mm with unprecedented angular resolution. Here we consider the physical implications of the asymmetric ring seen in the 2017 EHT data. To this end, we construct a large library of models based on general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic (GRMHD) simulations and synthetic images produced by general relativistic ray tracing. We compare the observed visibilities with this library and confirm that the asymmetric ring is consistent with earlier predictions of strong gravitational lensing of synchrotron emission from a hot plasma orbiting near the black hole event horizon. The ring radius and ring asymmetry depend on black hole mass and spin, respectively, and both are therefore expected to be stable when observed in future EHT campaigns. Overall, the observed image is consistent with expectations for the shadow of a spinning Kerr black hole as predicted by general relativity. If the black hole spin and M87's large scale jet are aligned, then the black hole spin vector is pointed away from Earth. Models in our library of non-spinning black holes are inconsistent with the observations as they do not produce sufficiently powerful jets. At the same time, in those models that produce a sufficiently powerful jet, the latter is powered by extraction of black hole spin energy through mechanisms akin to the Blandford-Znajek process. We briefly consider alternatives to a black hole for the central compact object. Analysis of existing EHT polarization data and data taken simultaneously at other wavelengths will soon enable new tests of the GRMHD models, as will future EHT campaigns at 230 and 345 GHz.
The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration. 4/10/2019. “First M87 Event Horizon Telescope Results. VI. The Shadow and Mass of the Central Black Hole.” ApJL, 875, L6, Pp. 1-44. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We present measurements of the properties of the central radio source in M87 using Event Horizon Telescope data obtained during the 2017 campaign. We develop and fit geometric crescent models (asymmetric rings with interior brightness depressions) using two independent sampling algorithms that consider distinct representations of the visibility data. We show that the crescent family of models is statistically preferred over other comparably complex geometric models that we explore. We calibrate the geometric model parameters using general relativistic magnetohydrodynamic (GRMHD) models of the emission region and estimate physical properties of the source. We further fit images generated from GRMHD models directly to the data. We compare the derived emission region and black hole parameters from these analyses with those recovered from reconstructed images. There is a remarkable consistency among all methods and data sets. We find that >50% of the total flux at arcsecond scales comes from near the horizon, and that the emission is dramatically suppressed interior to this region by a factor >10, providing direct evidence of the predicted shadow of a black hole. Across all methods, we measure a crescent diameter of 42 ± 3 μas and constrain its fractional width to be <0.5. Associating the crescent feature with the emission surrounding the black hole shadow, we infer an angular gravitational radius of GM/Dc2 = 3.8 ± 0.4 μas. Folding in a distance measurement of ${16.8}_{-0.7}^{+0.8}\,\mathrm{Mpc}$ gives a black hole mass of $M=6.5\pm 0.2{| }_{\mathrm{stat}}\pm 0.7{| }_{\mathrm{sys}}\times {10}^{9}\hspace{2pt}{M}_{\odot }$. This measurement from lensed emission near the event horizon is consistent with the presence of a central Kerr black hole, as predicted by the general theory of relativity.
S. Issaoun, M. D. Johnson, L. Blackburn, C.D. Brinkerink, M. Mościbrodzka, A. Chael, C. Goddi, I. Martí-Vidal, J. Wagner, S. S. Doeleman, H. Falcke, T. P. Krichbaum, K. Akiyama, U. Bach, K. L. Bouman, G. C. Bower, A. Broderick, I. Cho, G. Crew, J. Dexter, V. Fish, R. Gold, J. L. Gómez, K. Hada, A. Hernández-Gómez, M. Janßen, M. Kino, M. Kramer, L. Loinard, R.-S. Lu, S. Markoff, D. P. Marrone, L. D. Matthews, J. M. Moran, C. Müller, F. Roelofs, E. Ros, H. Rottmann, S. Sanchez, R. P. J. Tilanus, P. de Vicente, M. Wielgus, J. A. Zensus, and G.-Y. Zhao. 1/2019. “The Size, Shape, and Scattering of Sagittarius A* at 86 GHz: First VLBI with ALMA.” ApJ.
2018
J. Kim and et al. 2018. “The 1.4mm Core of Centaurus A: First VLBI Results from the South Pole Telescope.” ApJ, 861, 129.Abstract
Centaurus A (Cen A) is a bright radio source associated with the nearby galaxy NGC 5128 where high-resolution radio observations can probe the jet at scales of less than a light-day. The South Pole Telescope (SPT) and the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) performed a single-baseline very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) observation of Cen A in January 2015 as part of VLBI receiver deployment for the SPT. We measure the correlated flux density of Cen A at a wavelength of 1.4 mm on a ∼7000 km (5 Gλ) baseline. Ascribing this correlated flux density to the core, and with the use of a contemporaneous short-baseline flux density from a Submillimeter Array observation, we infer a core brightness temperature of 1.4×1011 K. This is close to the equipartition brightness temperature, where the magnetic and relativistic particle energy densities are equal. Under the assumption of a circular Gaussian core component, we derive an upper limit to the core size φ=34.0±1.8 μas, corresponding to 120 Schwarzschild radii for a black hole mass of 5.5×107M⊙.
L. Matthews, G. Crew, S. S. Doeleman, and et al. 2018. “The ALMA Phasing System: A Beamforming Capability for Ultra-high-resolution Science at (Sub)Millimeter Wavelengths.” PASP, 130, 015002.Abstract
The Atacama Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) Phasing Project (APP) has developed and deployed the hardware and software necessary to coherently sum the signals of individual ALMA antennas and record the aggregate sum in Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) Data Exchange Format. These beamforming capabilities allow the ALMA array to collectively function as the equivalent of a single large aperture and participate in global VLBI arrays. The inclusion of phased ALMA in current VLBI networks operating at (sub)millimeter wavelengths provides an order of magnitude improvement in sensitivity, as well as enhancements in u-v coverage and north-south angular resolution. The availability of a phased ALMA enables a wide range of new ultra-high angular resolution science applications, including the resolution of supermassive black holes on event horizon scales and studies of the launch and collimation of astrophysical jets. It also provides a high-sensitivity aperture that may be used for investigations such as pulsar searches at high frequencies. This paper provides an overview of the ALMA Phasing System design, implementation, and performance characteristics.
G. Bower and et al. 2018. “ALMA Polarimetry of SgrA*: Probing the Accretion Flow from the Event Horizon to the Bondi Radius.” ApJ, 868, 101.Abstract
Millimeter polarimetry of Sgr A* probes the linearly polarized emission region on a scale of ∼10 Schwarzschild radii (RS) as well as the dense, magnetized accretion flow on scales out to the Bondi radius (∼105RS) through Faraday rotation. We present here multi-epoch ALMA Band 6 (230 GHz) polarimetry of Sgr A*. The results confirm a mean rotation measure, RM≈−5×105 rad m−2, consistent with measurements over the past 20 years and support an interpretation of the RM as originating from a radiatively inefficient accretion flow (RIAF) with M˙≈10−8 M⊙ y−1. Variability is observed for the first time in the RM on time scales that range from hours to months. The long-term variations may be the result of changes in the line of sight properties in a turbulent accretion flow. Short-term variations in the apparent RM are not necessarily the result of Faraday rotation and may be the result of complex emission and propagatation effects close to the black hole, some of which have been predicted in numerical modeling. We also confirm the detection of circular polarization at a mean value of −1.1±0.2%. It is variable in amplitude on time scales from hours to months but the handedness remains unchanged from that observed in past centimeter- and millimeter-wavelength detections. These results provide critical constraints for the analysis and interpretation of Event Horizon Telescope data of Sgr A*, M87, and similar sources.
H. Nishioka and et al. 2018. “Control and Monitoring System for the Greenland Telescope: Computers, Networks, and Software” 10700 (11). Proc. SPIE.Abstract
We describe the control and monitoring system for the Greenland Telescope (GLT). The GLT is a 12-m radio telescope aiming to carry out the sub-millimeter Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) observations and image the shadow of the super massive black hole in M87. In November 2017 construction has been finished and commissioning activity has been started. In April 2018 we participated in the VLBI observing campaign for the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration. In this paper we present the entire GLT control/monitoring system in terms of computers, network and software.
R.-S. Lu, T. P. Krichbaum, A. L. Roy, V. L. Fish, S. S. Doeleman, and et al. 2018. “Detection of Intrinsic Source Structure at ~3 Schwarzschild Radii with Millimeter-VLBI Observations of Sagittarius A* .” ApJ, 859, 60.Abstract
We report results from very long baseline interferometric (VLBI) observations of the supermassive black hole in the Galactic center, Sgr A*, at 1.3 mm (230 GHz). The observations were performed in 2013 March using six VLBI stations in Hawaii, California, Arizona, and Chile. Compared to earlier observations, the addition of the APEX telescope in Chile almost doubles the longest baseline length in the array, provides additional {\it uv} coverage in the N-S direction, and leads to a spatial resolution of ∼30 μas (∼3 Schwarzschild radii) for Sgr A*. The source is detected even at the longest baselines with visibility amplitudes of ∼4-13% of the total flux density. We argue that such flux densities cannot result from interstellar refractive scattering alone, but indicate the presence of compact intrinsic source structure on scales of ∼3 Schwarzschild radii. The measured nonzero closure phases rule out point-symmetric emission. We discuss our results in the context of simple geometric models that capture the basic characteristics and brightness distributions of disk- and jet-dominated models and show that both can reproduce the observed data. Common to these models are the brightness asymmetry, the orientation, and characteristic sizes, which are comparable to the expected size of the black hole shadow. Future 1.3 mm VLBI observations with an expanded array and better sensitivity will allow a more detailed imaging of the horizon-scale structure and bear the potential for a deep insight into the physical processes at the black hole boundary.
D. Kubo and et al. 2018. “Electronics Instrumentation for the Greenland Telescope” 10708 (19). Proc. SPIE.Abstract
The Greenland Telescope project has recently participated in an experiment to image the supermassive black hole shadow at the center of M87 using Very Long Baseline Interferometry technique in April of 2018. The antenna consists of the 12-m ALMA North American prototype antenna that was modified to support two auxiliary side containers and to withstand an extremely cold environment. The telescope is currently at Thule Air Base in Greenland with the long-term goal to move the telescope over the Greenland ice sheet to Summit Station. The GLT currently has a single cryostat which houses three dual polarization receivers that cover 84-96 GHz, 213-243 GHz and 271-377 GHz bands. A hydrogen maser frequency source in conjunction with high frequency synthesizers are used to generate the local oscillator references for the receivers. The intermediate frequency outputs of each receiver cover 4-8 GHz and are heterodyned to baseband for digitization within a set of ROACH-2 units then formatted for recording onto Mark-6 data recorders. A separate set of ROACH-2 units operating in parallel provides the function of auto-correlation for real-time spectral analysis. Due to the stringent instrumental stability requirements for interferometry a diagnostic test system was incorporated into the design. Tying all of the above equipment together is the fiber optic system designed to operate in a low temperature environment and scalable to accommodate a larger distance between the control module and telescope for Summit Station. A report on the progress of the above electronics instrumentation system will be provided.
K. Bouman, M. D. Johnson, A. V. Dalca, A. A. Chael, F. Roelofs, S. S. Doeleman, and W. T. Freeman. 2018. “Reconstructing Video from Interferometric Measurements of Time - Varying Sources.” IEEE Transactions on Computational Imaging, 4, 512. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) makes it possible to recover images of astronomical sources with extremely high angular resolution. Most recently, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) has extended VLBI to short millimeter wavelengths with a goal of achieving angular resolution sufficient for imaging the event horizons of nearby supermassive black holes. VLBI provides measurements related to the underlying source image through a sparse set spatial frequencies. An image can then be recovered from these measurements by making assumptions about the underlying image. One of the most important assumptions made by conventional imaging methods is that over the course of a night's observation the image is static. However, for quickly evolving sources, such as the galactic center's supermassive black hole (Sgr A*) targeted by the EHT, this assumption is violated and these conventional imaging approaches fail. In this work we propose a new way to model VLBI measurements that allows us to recover both the appearance and dynamics of an evolving source by reconstructing a video rather than a static image. By modeling VLBI measurements using a Gaussian Markov Model, we are able to propagate information across observations in time to reconstruct a video, while simultaneously learning about the dynamics of the source's emission region. We demonstrate our proposed Expectation-Maximization (EM) algorithm, StarWarps, on realistic synthetic observations of black holes, and show how it substantially improves results compared to conventional imaging algorithms. Additionally, we demonstrate StarWarps on real VLBI data of the M87 Jet from the VLBA.
J. Kim and et al. 2018. “A VLBI Receiving System for the South Pole Telescope” 10708 (19). Proc. SPIE.Abstract

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is a very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) experiment that aims to observe supermassive black holes with an angular resolution that is comparable to the event horizon scale. The South Pole occupies an important position in the array, greatly increasing its north-south extent and therefore its resolution. 

 

The South Pole Telescope (SPT) is a 10-meter diameter, millimeter-wavelength telescope equipped for bolometric observations of the cosmic microwave background. To enable VLBI observations with the SPT we have constructed a coherent signal chain suitable for the South Pole environment. The dual-frequency receiver incorporates state-of-the-art SIS mixers and is installed in the SPT receiver cabin. The VLBI signal chain also includes a recording system and reference frequency generator tied to a hydrogen maser. Here we describe the SPT VLBI system design in detail and present both the lab measurements and on-sky results.

S. Matsushita and et al. 2018. “Commissioning Status of the Greenland Telescope (GLT)” 10700 (10). Proc. SPIE.Abstract
The Greenland Telescope completed its construction, so the commissioning phase has been started since December 2017. Single-dish commissioning has started from the optical pointing which produced the first pointing model, followed by the radio pointing and focusing using the Moon for both the 86 GHz and the 230 GHz receivers. After Venus started to rise from the horizon, the focus positions has been improved for both receivers. Once we started the line pointing using the SiO(2-1) maser line and the CO(2-1) line for the 86 GHz and the 230 GHz receivers, respectively, the pointing accuracy also improved, and the final pointing accuracy turned to be around 3" - 5" for both receivers. In parallel, VLBI commissioning has been performed, with checking the frequency accuracy and the phase stability for all the components that would be used for the VLBI observations. After all the checks, we successfully joined the dress rehearsals and actual observations of the 86 GHz and 230 GHz VLBI observations, The first dress rehearsal data between GLT and ALMA were correlated, and successfully detected the first fringe, which confirmed that the GLT commissioning was successfully performed.
M.T. Chen and et al. 2018. “The Greenland Telescope: Thule Operations” 10700 (12). Proc. SPIE.Abstract
The Greenland Telescope Project (GLT) has successfully commissioned its 12-m sub-millimeter. In January 2018, the fringes were detected between the GLT and the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) during a very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) exercise. In April 2018, the telescope participated in global VLBI science observations at Thule Air Base (TAB). The telescope has been completely rebuilt, with many new components, from the ALMA NA (North America) Prototype antenna and equipped with a new set of sub-millimeter receivers operating at 86, 230, and 345 GHz, as well as a complete set of instruments and VLBI backends. This paper describes our progress and status of the project and its plan for the coming decade.
2017
M. Johnson, K. L. Bouman, L. Blackburn, A. A. Chael, J. Rosen, H. Shiokawa, F. Roelofs, K. Akiyama, V. L. Fish, and S. Doeleman. 2017. “Dynamical Imaging with Interferometry.” ApJ, 850, 2.Abstract
By linking widely separated radio dishes, the technique of very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) can greatly enhance angular resolution in radio astronomy. However, at any given moment, a VLBI array only sparsely samples the information necessary to form an image. Conventional imaging techniques partially overcome this limitation by making the assumption that the observed cosmic source structure does not evolve over the duration of an observation, which enables VLBI networks to accumulate information as the Earth rotates and changes the projected array geometry. Although this assumption is appropriate for nearly all VLBI, it is almost certainly violated for submillimeter observations of the Galactic Center supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), which has a gravitational timescale of only ~20 seconds and exhibits intra-hour variability. To address this challenge, we develop several techniques to reconstruct dynamical images ("movies") from interferometric data. Our techniques are applicable to both single-epoch and multi-epoch variability studies, and they are suitable for exploring many different physical processes including flaring regions, stable images with small time-dependent perturbations, steady accretion dynamics, or kinematics of relativistic jets. Moreover, dynamical imaging can be used to estimate time-averaged images from time-variable data, eliminating many spurious image artifacts that arise when using standard imaging methods. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our techniques using synthetic observations of simulated black hole systems and 7mm Very Long Baseline Array observations of M87, and we show that dynamical imaging is feasible for Event Horizon Telescope observations of Sgr A*.
K. Akiyama, K. Kuramochi, S. Ikeda, V. L. Fish, F. Tazaki, M. Honma, S. S. Doeleman, A. E. Broderick, J. Dexter, M. Mościbrodzka, K. L. Bouman, A. A. Chael, and M. Zaizen. 2017. “Imaging the Schwarzschild-radius-scale Structure of M87 with the Event Horizon Telescope Using Sparse Modeling.” \apj, 838, Pp. 1.
R. Gold, J. C. McKinney, M. D. Johnson, and S. S. Doeleman. 2017. “Probing the Magnetic Field Structure in Sgr A* on Black Hole Horizon Scales with Polarized Radiative Transfer Simulations.” \apj, 837, Pp. 180.

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