Imaging Event Horizons —— A Journey Walked Together by Observers and Theorists


Chi-kwan Chan, University of Arizona


2018.09.25 15:30-16:30


601 Pao Yue-Kong Library


Black holes, unlike many astronomical objects, were first predicted theoretically as a direct consequence of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. They were initially thought unphysical, even by Einstein himself. Although we have many indirect evidences that support their existences after decades of discoveries and observations, to date, there is no direct observation of black holes. This will soon change. The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a Very-Long-Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) experiment that links together multiple radio telescopes around the globe, had a very successful observing campaign in 2017. Since then, it has made significant progresses in processing and analyzing the data. As a theorist working in this large scale observation project, I will report my perspectives in this talk.


Chi-kwan Chan works with cutting edge technologies to advance scientific research. An avid coder and an expert in computational astrophysics and high performance computing, Chi-kwan has developed new algorithms to solve complex physical systems, used graphics processing units (GPUs) to accelerate numerical simulations, designed cloud computing infrastructures to handle large data sets, and applied machine learning algorithms to speed up and automate data processing. Some of Chi-kwan’s active projects include capturing images of black holes (the Event Horizon Telescope project) and visualizing numerical simulations in virtual reality. Chi-kwan is currently an astronomer at the Steward Observatory and a Data Science Fellow at the Data Science Institute at the University of Arizona. He is also a coordinator of the Software and Data Compatibility Working Group of the EHT.