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Colorado company helped capture the first picture of a black hole

A company in Longmont created a system that stored data gathered from the telescopes around the world.

LONGMONT, Colo. — It's the photograph that entranced the world earlier this month, and a Colorado company helped capture it. 

Conduant Corporation, based in Longmont, helped piece together the image that gave us our first look at a black hole. 

The breakthrough image, released April 9, depicts a fiery doughnut-shaped object in a galaxy 53 million light-years from Earth. 

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Credit: Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

Scientists say it shows light and gas swirling around the lip of a supermassive black hole, a monster of the universe whose existence was theorized by Einstein more than a century ago, but confirmed only indirectly over the decades. 

It was assembled from data gathered by eight radio telescopes around the world.

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The data from those telescopes were stored on a system created by Conduant Corporation. The system recorded real-time signals, storing them for future use. 

"It was a little bit of a surprise," said Phil Brunelle and Ken Owens, partners at Conduant Corporation. "We hadn't heard that it was imminent. It's a spectacular piece of work. It made us proud. We're a piece of it. Not a big one, but a little one."

The telescope data was gathered two years ago, over four days when the weather had to be just right all around the world. Completing the image was an enormous undertaking, involving an international team of scientists, supercomputers and hundreds of terabytes of data. 

In total, the project took about 10 years to complete.

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