Thursday, May 09, 2019

M87 reconstruction by the Event Horizon Telescope project

** Nuit Blanche is now on Twitter: @NuitBlog **

Credit: Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration
We talked about M87 before but as far as I can see the most recent black hole images do not seem to use sparsity driven reconstruction techniques. Here is the Event Horizon Telescope page that featured this beautiful reconstruction of the M87 black hole and the attendant papers connected to this press release:

The Galactic Center supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*) is one of the most promising targets to study the dynamics of black hole accretion and outflow via direct imaging with very long baseline interferometry (VLBI). At 3.5 mm (86 GHz), the emission from Sgr A* is resolvable with the Global Millimeter VLBI Array (GMVA). We present the first observations of Sgr A* with the phased Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) joining the GMVA. Our observations achieve an angular resolution of ~87{\mu}as, improving upon previous experiments by a factor of two. We reconstruct a first image of the unscattered source structure of Sgr A* at 3.5 mm, mitigating effects of interstellar scattering. The unscattered source has a major axis size of 120 ±34{\mu}as (12 ± 3.4 Schwarzschild radii), and a symmetrical morphology (axial ratio of 1.2+0.3−0.2), which is further supported by closure phases consistent with zero within 3{\sigma}. We show that multiple disk-dominated models of Sgr A* match our observational constraints, while the two jet-dominated models considered are constrained to small viewing angles. Our long-baseline detections to ALMA also provide new constraints on the scattering of Sgr A*, and we show that refractive scattering effects are likely to be weak for images of Sgr A* at 1.3 mm with the Event Horizon Telescope. Our results provide the most stringent constraints to date for the intrinsic morphology and refractive scattering of Sgr A*, demonstrating the exceptional contribution of ALMA to millimeter VLBI.
Very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) is a technique for imaging celestial radio emissions by simultaneously observing a source from telescopes distributed across Earth. The challenges in reconstructing images from fine angular resolution VLBI data are immense. The data is extremely sparse and noisy, thus requiring statistical image models such as those designed in the computer vision community. In this paper we present a novel Bayesian approach for VLBI image reconstruction. While other methods often require careful tuning and parameter selection for different types of data, our method (CHIRP) produces good results under different settings such as low SNR or extended emission. The success of our method is demonstrated on realistic synthetic experiments as well as publicly available real data. We present this problem in a way that is accessible to members of the community, and provide a dataset website (this http URL) that facilitates controlled comparisons across algorithms.

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