May 3: How the first picture of a black hole was taken (hint: it starts with 5 petabytes of raw…
Published: April 2019
Scientists Had to Wait Until the Antartica Summer to Send Hard Drives from the South Pole Telescope
Circulated: May 3, 2019
The black hole at the centre of Messier 87 resides 55 million light-years from Earth and has a mass 6.5 billion times that of our Sun.
Over seven days in April 2017, eight telescopes (Chile, Hawaii, Arizona, Mexico, Spain and at the South Pole) tilted toward M87. Synchronized by atomic clocks, they all started collecting the incoming radio signals and logging the data on super-fast data recorders that had been built for this very task.
“We had 5 petabytes of data recorded,” Dan Marrone, Ph.D. @ U of Arizona who specialized in data storage for the experiment.
Bonus fact: this one picture required the data equivalent of 1.39 billion copies of “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X.