The missing link in the study of black holes? Africa Millimetre Telescope could unlock new secrets

South Africa Namibia astronomy universe spc_00053025.jpg
Southern Africa's Stargazers
22:15 - Source: CNN
Namibia CNN  — 

Black holes, which trap light and warp the very fabric of space, remain one of the great mysteries of science. But astronomers are hoping that a telescope in Africa could help unlock their secrets.

Eli Kasai is an optical astronomer at the University of Namibia, and he is working on a project to bring a millimeter wave telescope to the country, which will be the first of its kind in Africa. Known as the Africa Millimetre Telescope (AMT), Kasai says it could provide the “missing link in the study of black holes.”

A millimeter wave telescope is designed to detect radio waves from objects in space whose wavelengths are in the region of one millimeter. These waves can penetrate the clouds of dust between a black hole and Earth.

Black holes form in outer space when stars collapse or fall in on themselves and the gravitational pull is so strong that not even light can escape. This makes them invisible to the human eye.

By using specialist telescopes to study them, scientists hope to discover more about how our universe was first formed.

The AMT will form part of a global network of telescopes called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) which has been searching for black holes in the far reaches of the universe since 2006. The existing eight telescopes combine to make one gigantic telescope the size of Earth and last year produced the first ever picture of a black hole.

It was a groundbreaking moment for astronomy worldwide because it provided the first direct evidence that black holes even existed.

The black hole image captured by the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration.

With more telescopes joining the network, the EHT will be able to capture better quality photos.

“At the moment when the existing telescopes in the network are not facing the black hole they have to wait until the Earth rotates again,” said Kasai. “It was this realization by the EHT scientists that spawned