Radio telescope in Namibia | Radio NPO 1

“We really want to take pictures of black holes,” says Mark Klein Walt, director of Radboud Radio Lab. “We use a network of telescopes all over the world for this. There is a gap in that network, specifically in southern Africa. We want to bridge that gap by setting up a telescope in Gramsburg, Namibia.”

Closing this gap is within reach with a pledge of money. “We have now received about half of the funds we need, and I am sure we will get the other part too, because of this great investment and the confidence that Radboud University gives us in this. And in fact, in a year, we can start a project with as few bells and whistles, And we already have almost all the money for that now.”

Sharper pictures, GIF

With a bit of luck, this will improve our picture of black holes. “By adding additional telescopes to the network, you can improve the image. And what you can also do – and this is where we want to go in the future – is not just take a picture, but also a movie, by taking pictures at different times.”

The location in South Africa is very suitable for that, because “[d]For this you need telescopes that can look at the black hole for a long time, the black hole at the center of our Milky Way. And that’s why we in Namibia are perfect, because that black hole is just over our heads, and so we can watch it for a very long time. So you can improve the picture, and you can watch for longer.”

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Practical applications

All this has not only scientific, but also practical use. “The great thing about these kinds of astronomical projects is that, on the one hand, more basic research is being done. For example, to be able to better understand Einstein’s theory of relativity, and better understand how a black hole affects its environment. At the same time, We use techniques that you can also apply in, for example, medical research. I think that’s great, that they both play a role in these kinds of projects.”

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