Event Horizon Telescope

Global End-to-End Performance with the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

The Event Horizon Telescope collaboration worked together to produce the first ever picture of a black hole.

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is a global network of synchronized radio observatories that work in unison to observe radio sources associated with black holes. During their research season in 2017, the eleven telescopes, spread world-wide, focused on a single black hole with the goal of gathering enough data to create a visualization of the spatial anomaly. Each Instrument generated at least 350TB of data each day over the six-day coordinated campaign in 2017. This data was stored on hard drives at each site and then shipped to MIT Haystack Observatory and Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy. These two sites collected, analyzed, and then produced the now famous first image of a black hole.

In 2020, International Networks at Indiana University began to collaborate with EHT staff to better understand the network needs and current connections with a goal of assisting the researchers in using the international research and education (R&E) networks to share at least partial data sets, which had previously been impossible. Even being able to share smaller snippets of data in near-real time would potentially have a significant effect on the process of science for the astronomy teams.

IN@IU’s work began by focusing on the MIT Haystack Observatory and the two instruments believed to be best connected in France and Spain. Having experience with this subset of instruments, IN@IU has already identified several bottlenecks in the end-to-end path, as well as possible limitations in the common protocol that had been used to share data previously. IN@IU’s work with these teams will continue through 2021 and will expand to other instruments with R&E network connectivity—with the hope of enabling the teams to use R&E networks, instead of shipping companies, to share their data and advance their science.


Collection sites

  1. MIT Haystack Observatory, Westford, Massachusetts
  2. Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, Bonn, Germany

Telescope locations

  1. The Submillimeter Array (SMA) on Mauna Kea, HI
  2. James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) on Mauna Kea, HI
  3. Heinrich Hertz Submillimeter Telescope (SMT) on Mt. Graham, AZ
  4. Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) in Tucson, AZ
  5. Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano (LMT) on Sierra Negra, Mexico
  6. Atacama Large Millimiter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile
  7. Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) in Chile
  8. South Ookle Telescope (SPT) in Antarctica
  9. Greenland Telescope at Thule Air Force Base, Greenland
  10. Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique (IRAM) in Pico Veleta, Spain
  11. Northern Extended Millimeter Array (NOEMA) on Plateau de Bure, France