What's next for the Event Horizon Telescope? Twelve possible new targets

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), an international collaboration of radio telescopes, has captured the first-ever image of a black hole in 2019, specifically located at the center of the galaxy M87. Black holes, regions of space with such strong gravitational forces that nothing, not even light, can escape, are formed from the remnants of massive stars that collapse under their own gravity, creating a singularity with infinite density. The event horizon surrounds the singularity, and it is the interest of the EHT to study this particular aspect.

The EHT team has published a new paper on a possible expansion of the array’s capabilities to enhance image quality. Enhancements will improve resolution and permit the study of a larger number of black holes. Magnetically arrested disk (MAD) models, which power jet mechanisms and have important implications for the relationship between supermassive black holes and the evolution of its host galaxy, are favored from theoretical studies of EHT images of both the black hole at the center of the Milky Way and that of M87. Simultaneous observations in the frequency range 86-230-345 GHz will be possible upon completion, leading to new studies.

The authors, led by Xinyue Alice Zhang from the Center for Astrophysics at the Harvard & Smithsonian, have identified 12 most promising supermassive black hole targets for the EHT. These targets are handpicked from an exhaustive analysis of the ETHER database (a list of 3.8 million sources), which was narrowed down through the assessment of flux density, a signal strength that allows for mass measurements to be taken optically. Among the selected targets are elliptical and lenticular galaxies such as IC1459, NGC45elliptical94, NGC3998, NGC4261, NGC2663, NGC3894, M84, NGC4552, 3C 317, NGC315, NGC1218, and NGC5077.

The team aims to use these targets to access a new population of supermassive black holes with extended observations. The study is currently available on the arXiv preprint server.

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