Kevin Koay Jun Yi from Penang has the distinction of being among the first team of international scientists to have captured the first image of a black hole ― an astronomical achievement that is making waves around the world when the news was first released yesterday.
The 37-year-old scientist got involved in the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project that made the historic record of the black hole after joining the Taiwan-based Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASIAA) in 2016 as a postdoctoral fellow, The Star reported yesterday.
“I was part of the observing team at the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, on April 2017 when these observations were carried out.
On his Facebook he mentioned that:
“In the last 2 years since joining the project, a lot of blood, sweat, and literally tears have been poured into this effort. I have to admit that this has come at a cost to my own mental and physical health.
With the (at least) twice-weekly telecons at night with American and European colleagues, many times working with them till the early hours of the morning and over weekends to meet tight collaboration deadlines; the many weeks of being away from the family to attend meetings, take part in observations, and work on the Greenland telescope.
Many times feeling inadequate and not smart enough to be a part of this incredible team of passionate scientists. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all worth it.
But today as the results were announced to the world, the answer was a definite ‘Yes!’ I’m humbled to have the privilege of being one of the first persons in the entire history of humanity to have seen the image; and to play a small role in this significant milestone in our understanding of the Universe.
But it has also been VERY challenging trying to keep this exciting news to myself (and within the collaboration) for the last 10 months since making the first images!
I’m so grateful to Agnes and the kids for being so supportive and patient with me for the last 2 years when I’ve been away so often and busy working outside of office hours. And it was great to have them come all the way to the Academia Sinica office to attend our press conference!”
He said the team involved 200 international members, adding that he was among the first group of 20 people to see the black hole images.
Koay holds a doctorate from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research at Curtin University.
Cyberjaya’s MMU is one of the key universities in Malaysia which have contributed so much to the country’s science and technology ecosystem and we’re proud that they’re part of Cyberjaya.