This paper presents the ESA Voyage 2050 White Paper for a concept of TeraHertz Exploration and Zooming-in for Astrophysics (THEZA). It addresses the science case and some implementation issues of a space-borne radio interferometric system for ultra-sharp imaging of celestial radio sources at the level of angular resolution down to (sub-) microarcseconds. THEZA focuses at millimetre and sub-millimetre wavelengths (frequencies above ∼300 GHz), but allows for science operations at longer wavelengths too. The THEZA concept science rationale is focused on the physics of spacetime in the vicinity of supermassive black holes as the leading science driver. The main aim of the concept is to facilitate a major leap by providing researchers with orders of magnitude improvements in the resolution and dynamic range in direct imaging studies of the most exotic objects in the Universe, black holes. The concept will open up a sizeable range of hitherto unreachable parameters of observational astrophysics. It unifies two major lines of development of space-borne radio astronomy of the past decades: Space VLBI (Very Long Baseline Interferometry) and mm- and sub-mm astrophysical studies with “single dish” instruments. It also builds upon the recent success of the Earth-based Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) – the first-ever direct image of a shadow of the super-massive black hole in the centre of the galaxy M87. As an amalgam of these three major areas of modern observational astrophysics, THEZA aims at facilitating a breakthrough in high-resolution high image quality studies in the millimetre and sub-millimetre domain of the electromagnetic spectrum.
- Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena