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Alejandro Mus Mejías, awarded the “Early Career” Prize

  • January 25th, 2024
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Alejandro Mus, Philosophie Doctor in Physics from the University of Valencia, has been awarded the “Early Career Prize” by the Collaboration of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT).

Alejandro Mus, Philosophie Doctor in Physics from the University of Valencia, is specialized in Radio Astronomy. He has been awarded the “Early Career” Prize for the best doctoral thesis in 2023 by the International Collaboration of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT).

Mus has been acknowledged by his outstanding advances in the domain of interferometric image reconstruction —the observational technique used by the EHT to obtain images of black holes—, using objective and multidisciplinary approaches. His research represents a significant progress in techniques of imaging and filming of astronomical objects that will allow a better understanding of these enigmatic cosmic phenomena. In his thesis, Alejandro develops three new mathematical algorithms that allow the reliable reconstruction of black holes’ images and their quick time evolution.

The Very Large Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) technique, used by the EHT, consist of combining the signals received by radio telescopes located in different parts of the world to simulate a planet-sized telescope. Thanks to VLBI, the Collaboration of the EHT has managed to show the world what is invisible: two black holes at the centres of the galaxies M87* and the Milky Way, Sagittarius A*. Nevertheless, this technique is associated with some mathematical and physical complex problems. The main problem is that the reconstruction of images is an “ill-conditioned” problem, which has no unique solution. However, the new algorithms proposed in Alejandro Mus’s thesis, entitled “Deconvolution techniques for dynamical interferometric observations” (Técnicas de deconvolución dynamica para observaciones interferométricas in Spanish), represent an important step towards the recovery of solid and reliable information from VLBI observations.

Furthermore, there are astronomical objects, in particular Sagittarius A* —the supermassive black hole at the heart of our Galaxy—, that change very fast. So fast, in fact, that observing them for hours and pretending to take a picture is like taking a picture of a racing car in motion. In order to process these data properly, state-of-the-art, top-quality calibration (telescope adjustment) and analysis techniques must be developed. In his thesis, Mus presents new algorithms that make it possible to squeeze the most out of the data, incorporating the problem of rapidly changing sources as part of the solution.

Alejandro Mus was very grateful for his award: “It has been an honour to be awarded for my work over four years by the prestigious Collaboration of the EHT. Some of the best radio astronomers in the world are in it, and to see that my algorithms are being used to expand the limits of human knowledge is incredible. Effort, dedication and passion are rewarded. By all means, this award has been possible thanks to the constant support, help and mentoring of my tutor, Ivan Martí Vidal. His patience and dedication these four years have made me the astronomer that I am. I would also like to thank the entire Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics of the UV, who have welcomed me during these four years and eased my entire doctoral career”.

Dr. Martí-Vidal, a recognised leader in the field of Radio Astronomy and director of this doctoral thesis, praised Mus’ dedication and effort: “The EHT group at the University of Valencia is very small. There are just three of us: Alejandro, Ezequiel Albentosa (predoctoral researcher) and myself. Yet, the Valencian contribution to the Collaboration of EHT has been, and is being, extraordinary, as this well-deserved recognition of Alejandro shows”, said Dr. Martí-Vidal. “We must also highlight the important support from the Generalitat Valenciana, through its GenT project, which has allowed Alejandro to devote himself full time to his impeccable doctoral thesis”, he adds.

This award not only celebrates the exceptional talent of Alejandro Mus, but also underlines the ongoing commitment of the University of Valencia to the promotion of academic excellence and the progress of scientific knowledge.

Alejandro Mus joins the distinguished list of researchers awarded for their significant contributions to the EHT, reinforcing the prestige and leadership of the University of Valencia in the field of Radio Astronomy.


EHT Link