HGST HAS been working with scientists to record data from the Event Horizon Telescope to record the first imaging data from a super massive black hole.
The company has provided an array of Ultrastar HelioSeal HDD drives which are being used to store images from Sagittarius A, a super massive black hole in the middle of the Milky Way hidden by billions and billions of gas and dust particles.
HelioSeal drives use a combination of a sealed helium environment and shingling between tracks on the hard disk to produce a much denser archiving space. A conventional drive would not work properly owing to the high altitudes at which the data is being stored as it arrives at Earth stations. Instead, the HelioSeal has its own microclimate.
The information is gathered using radio waves emitted by Sagittarius A, which are collected after their 25,000-light year trip to Earth.
Ten powerful telescopes pick up the data and cross-reference it across 34 participating facilities across the globe, checking each other's results using a technique called Very Long Baseline Interferometry.
“HGST’s contribution to the Event Horizon Telescope project has helped it accurately capture and store the massive amounts of data coming in from all the telescopes located around the globe,” said Shep Doeleman, professor at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics/Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who directs the project.
“Using sealed helium drives was the only way to ensure that data could be captured in remote locations, such as our high-altitude observatory in Mexico, where all other storage devices physically failed. Additionally, the high capacity of each drive ensured that we were able to build denser and fewer enclosures overall.”
It is hoped that the data can be used to create the first image of a black hole, in turn giving boffins the opportunity to test some of Einstein's theories.
"HGST’s hermetically sealed helium drives are uniquely suited for the harsh ambient environments being experienced by the Event Horizon Telescope group," said Brendan Collins, vice president of product marketing at HGST.
"Couple that with the raw storage capacity of HGST’s HelioSeal drives, and Dr Doeleman’s team of astronomers have the only reliable storage platform capable of capturing an image that will go down in history.
"The Event Horizon Telescope project is set to capture the first ever visual image of a black hole, and HGST is thrilled that our helium HDDs are the only enabling storage technology that can help push those boundaries of science and research."
The team behind the project will hold an AMA on Reddit next week where we hope to learn more about the project's timescales and even some possible outcomes.
HGST committed to its helium drives last year when the firm announced that it will stop production of traditional air drives. µ
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