An international team of researchers including several scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) has obtained an image of radio emission in the active galaxy OJ 287 at an angular resolution of 12 micro arcseconds, which is presently the highest resolution achieved in astronomical observations. This has been made possible with the technique of very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) which combines signals recorded at multiple radio telescopes simultaneously observing the same object and uses this combination to create a virtual telescope whose effective diameter is set by the largest distance between the participating telescopes. Combining together twelve radio telescopes distributed across the globe and an orbiting 10-metre antenna on board of the satellite Spektr-R launched and operated by the Russian Space Agency, the researchers have effectively constructed a radio telescope with a diameter of 193,000 km and used it to peer into the very heart of the galaxy OJ 287 believed to host a pair of supermassive black holes.
Their findings are published in the current issue of “The Astrophysical Journal”.
Read the full MPIfR press release from January 19, 2022 here.
Image: © Eduardo Ros/MPIfR (collage), Gómez et al., The Astrophysical Journal, 2022 (images).