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The top prize in high-energy astrophysics, the Bruno Rossi Prize 2020, has been awarded to the Event Horizon Telescope team for the landmark image and analysis of the first shadow of a black hole. The UvA-researchers Sera Markoff, Oliver Porth, Doosoon Yoon and Koushik Chatterjee are part of this team.

First picture of a black hole. Image: Event Horizon Telescope

The American Astronomical Society awards the Rossi Prize in recognition of significant contributions as well as recent and original work in high-energy astrophysics.

The Event Horizon Telescope, is a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes that was designed to capture images of black holes. In April 2019, the EHT collaboration announced that it had successfully taken the first picture of the black hole at the center of the Messier 87 galaxy, with the results published in a series of six papers in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The image, a bright ring formed by light bending around the black hole, quickly circled the globe, appearing across the front pages of newspapers and throughout social media. The 2020 Rossi Prize recognizes this historic scientific achievement.

‘After nearly two decades of planning and work, it was exhilarating to see the EHT images so clearly confirm a fundamental prediction of Einstein’s theory of gravity,’said projectleader Sheperd Doeleman. ‘We can now visualize and study supermassive black holes all the way down to their event horizons. It’s a remarkable breakthrough made possible by a global collaboration of researchers and the support of many funding agencies and foundations."

Bruno Rossi

The prize is in honor of Professor Bruno Rossi, an authority on cosmic ray physics and a pioneer in the field of X-ray astronomy. The Rossi Prize includes an engraved certificate and a 1,500 dollar award. Dr. Doeleman will give a lecture at the 237th AAS meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, in January 2021.