Huib van Langevelde (Chief Scientist in JIVE, Dwingeloo, also Professor of Galactic Radio Astronomy at Leiden) has been selected as the new director of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). The EHT is a collaboration involving about 350 scientists from 18 countries. The EHT combines sub-millimeter telescopes around the world, including the ALMA array in Chile, and published the first image of a Black Hole in 2019.
During his PhD research Van Langevelde already focused on what is happening in the center of our Galaxy. At JIVE he became an expert in Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), the technique used by the EHT. During the EHT VLBI observations, telescopes around the world observe simultaneously in order to obtain an image with extreme resolution by effectively constructing a telescope as big as the world for observations at millimeter wavelength.
The EHT was assembled to obtain images of the supermassive Black Holes at the centers of the galaxy M87 and the Milky Way, where Sagittarius A* is the radio source associated with the central Black Hole. In 2019 the consortium observations of M87 resulted in the very first image of a Black Hole.
Van Langevelde is ready for the challenge: "I will be overseeing a complex, global collaboration of scientists with a range of cultures and ambitions. Their expertise needs to be bundled in order to achieve exciting new results."
In this new role, Van Langevelde will be supported by a joint effort of institutes in the Netherlands which are already contributing to the project with specific expertise, for example in the use of the ALMA telescope, the VLBI technique and the astrophysics of Black Holes. In particular, astronomers at the Radboud University and University of Amsterdam are involved in the project. The Dutch ALMA center of expertise, Allegro, is hosted at Leiden University, while the NOVA group in Groningen develops sub-millimeter receivers for the ALMA telescope.
JIVE, hosted at ASTRON, is a European world-leading institute for VLBI expertise, which provides access to the European VLBI Network. JIVE staff have developed software that is used for EHT data processing; Mark Kettenis, Des Small and Ilse van Bemmel (who co-chairs the Calibration and Error Analysis working group). Some JIVE partners are very active members of the EHT collaboration, such as CTH/OSO, IRA-INAF, and especially MPIfR, a founding institution of the EHT in Europe, also coordinator of the GMVA, which together with EVN offers global VLBI over a large range of wavelengths.
As EHT director Huib van Langevelde is the successor of Shep Doeleman.
Note on image: Van Langevelde during the ‘Betweter Festival in 2019 in Utrecht'. Credit: Betweter Festival / Anna van Kooij.