First ever close-up images of black hole ‘set to be revealed’

10 April, 2019, 12:24 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • Quantum century

But that's about to change. When black holes collide into one another, they let off massive gravitational waves that have been detected by telescopes and interferometers at observatories in the USA and Italy.

If the same were to happen to Earth, our planet would fit inside a thimble or a water bottle cap.

"Instead of constructing a giant telescope we combined several observatories as if they were fragments of a giant mirror", Michael Bremer, an astronomer at the Institute for Millimetric Radio Astronomy in Grenoble, told AFP.

Yet, the phenomena are so powerful that nothing nearby - not even light - can escape their gravitational pull.

"Karl Schwarzschild and Albert Einstein would have been thrilled to see this image, just a century after the black hole idea was mathematically formulated", Loeb said. They've been able to theorize and simulate the elusive objects in the lab. If they could, it would swallow the lab and everything around it.

University of Washington astronomer Eric Agol played a key role in suggesting VLBI as a way to view the "shadows" of supermassive black holes back in 1999.

Since then, 103 years have passed, and we still haven't seen what a black hole really looks like.

These can be up to 20 times more massive than the Sun, but are tiny in space. Virgo A is calculated to be some 3.5 billion times the mass of our sun and situated about 54 million light-years from our solar system.

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Dr. Urry pointed out that evidence for the existence of black holes has mounted steadily since the 1960s, including the Nobel Prize-winning detection, in 2015, of vibrations in spacetime from two colliding black holes by the LIGO experiment.

Supermassive black holes are interesting as they are in some ways linked to the evolution of galaxies.

Supermassive black holes are thought to have first formed early in the history of the Universe, but their origin story remains a cypher. The goal of the Event Horizon Telescope team has been to spy the dark edge of a black hole in silhouette against that glowing backdrop of hot gas.

That may sound like a big target, but for the telescope array on Earth some 26,000 light years (245 trillion kilometres) away, it's like trying to photograph a golf ball on the Moon.

Its mass is equivalent to 4.1 million Suns, and its diameter a fifth of the distance between Earth and the Sun.

The EHT, a global effort to capture the first-ever photo of a black hole's immediate environment, will announce its first results during a press conference Wednesday at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT). But the biggest black holes are the ones that form at the center of galaxies as they evolve. The left side of the image is brighter than the right side due to the Doppler beaming effect: Light emitted from material moving toward an observer is brighter than light from material moving away from the observer.

Why is photographing a black hole not easy?


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