2018 Will Be The Year Humanity Directly 'Sees' Our First Black Hole
 
“No longer will we need to rely on simulations or artist’s conceptions; we’ll have our very first actual, data-based picture to work with. If it’s successful, it paves the way for even longer baseline studies; with an array of radio telescopes in space, we could extend our reach from a single black hole to many hundreds of them. If 2016 was the year of the gravitational wave and 2017 was the year of the neutron star merger, then 2018 is set up to be the year of the event horizon. For any fan of astrophysics, black holes, and General Relativity, we’re living in the golden age.”

Black holes have been dreamed up by theorists for centuries. Even in the aftermath of Newtonian gravity, a spectacular realization came about that if you gathered enough mass together into a small enough volume, the gravitational effects would be so pronounced that nothing, not even light, could escape. These black holes show up with very specific properties in General Relativity, and today in modern astrophysics, we know of three independent ways to make them. But despite observing their effects in many different wavelengths of light, such as the radio and X-ray, we’ve never imaged an event horizon directly. Although a telescope the size of Earth would be able to, that technology is out of reach. Owing to collaboration and human ingenuity, however, we’ve developed an array known as the Event Horizon Telescope that should reveal its first image next year!

Will we see the event horizon of a black hole for the first time? My bet is on yes. Come get the science as to why! 

Tier Benefits
Pledge $0 or more per month
patrons
Everyone
Pledge $0.01 or more per month
patrons
Patrons Only
Planet Supporter
$1 or more per month 39 patrons
Planet supporter: You might be small, but there are more of you out there than anyone knows. Immediate full access to articles, ad-free here on Patreon and in your inbox, so that you can take them with you anywhere you go! Patrons receive an exclusive monthly email newsletter with highlights of the best of Starts With A Bang, with a special monthly thank-you message for supporting us.
Pledge $2 or more per month
40 patrons
Giant planet supporter: Know that you're twice as valuable and able to hold onto a hydrogen/helium gas envelope, unlike those rocky lightweights! All previous rewards plus full access to the Patreon activity channel/forum. You will get to view everything on that channel -- including previews of what's upcoming -- and interact with all Patreon supporters who fund us at this level and above.
Pledge $3 or more per month
24 patrons
Star supporter: You're a star, literally! All earlier rewards, plus the ability to submit links to any posts you write on Medium, where they will be read and (if we like it) recommended by Ethan and Starts With A Bang, with the best non-scientist posts getting Tweets from me and the best scientist posts earning the opportunity to be added to the Starts With A Bang collection!
Pledge $5 or more per month
46 patrons
Supernova supporter: You're the enabler of life in the Universe! All earlier rewards, plus voting privileges on what the next podcast/video/hangout/special article topic/project-for-development (when available) will be, plus your name credited in either text or audio at the end of podcasts/videos. In addition, you'll get access to premium interaction threads on Patreon where I will be responding to submissions and questions on a 3x/week basis (minimum), and where you can choose and suggest writing prompts for Starts With A Bang articles.
Pledge $10 or more per month
24 patrons
Nebula supporter: You're the location where everything that was born originated! All earlier rewards, plus your submissions get first consideration for Ask Ethan columns. In addition, when podcasts are unlocked you get priority opportunity for your questions and suggestions to be featured on our podcast, plus entry into our monthly lottery to win a 5 minute spot live, with me on our podcast.
Pledge $20 or more per month
8 patrons
Galaxy supporter: Our Universe wouldn't be the same if it weren't for you! All earlier rewards, plus all your votes now count double, plus Ethan friends/follows you on the social networks (facebook, twitter, tumblr, google+) of your choice, gives you a shout-out (and a #FF if you like) on Twitter. Furthermore, you'll receive an autographed, annual halloween photo of Ethan in his new costume every year.
Pledge $50 or more per month
0 of 20 patrons
Universe supporter: You really can have it all! All earlier rewards, plus you get to make an incredible difference: the classroom of your choice will receive a 1-hour interactive live Skype/Hangout session with me, where I'll answer any and all questions about the Universe that they have. Give the tremendous gift of bringing the Universe to the school of your choice!
Pledge $100 or more per month
2 of 10 patrons
Multiverse supporter: Go beyond all the known limits, and encompass all that's possible! All earlier rewards, plus you get your choice of product, activity, location or business to be the subject of one of our Weekend Diversions annually. You'll also receive the first copies, automatically, of any new materials that are ever created by me, shipped anywhere in the world, for as long as you're a supporter.
Recent Posts