Atomic clocks support world’s first black hole photo
Orolia, through its joint venture company T4Science Inc. in Switzerland, supported the ground-breaking scientific initiative to capture the world’s first photo of a black hole, conducted by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project.
As a leader in maser atomic clock technology, Orolia provided the critical timing solution to synchronize telescopes around the world and create a virtual telescope the size of Earth to observe this deep space, supermassive object.
Some of the world’s most advanced telescopes, located at challenging high-altitude sites, were synchronized with T4Science Masers to capture the sharpest image possible. Locations included volcanoes in Hawaii, Arizona mountains, the Spanish Sierra Nevada, the Chilean Atacama Desert and Antarctica.
T4Science masers deliver ultra-precise time synchronization in the most challenging environments on Earth and in Space.
The EHT project uses very long baseline interferometry (VLBI). This technology requires synchronization, phase stability and phase coherence between different telescopes within a few femto-seconds, and leverages the Earth’s rotation to form one Earth-size telescope.
VLBI enables the EHT to achieve an angular resolution of 20 micro-arcseconds — enough to read a newspaper in New York from a sidewalk café in Paris.
Orolia delivers this critical VLBI technology through its T4Science iMaser-3000 hydrogen masers. The iMaser-3000 is a VLBI atomic clock, supporting other mission-critical timing programs such as military and commercial satellite applications.
“Orolia has been a proud supporter of space research and missions for more than forty years,” said Orolia CEO Jean-Yves Courtois. “As the world leader in resilient positioning, navigation and timing solutions, we develop precise, ultra-reliable technology for environments where failure is not an option.”
Orolia’s proven timing solutions support many space agencies and research institutes worldwide, including ESA, NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, SpaceX, the Centre National d’Étude Spatiales (CNES France), the National Physics Laboratory (UK), Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt (DLR Germany) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), among others.