So this day has come. Now we can enjoy the true visualization of the black hole. So to speak, get to know the everyday life of these space monsters. The fact is that NASA released an impressive visualization of a simulated black hole that demonstrates how the extreme gravitational forces created by these massive objects distort the light around them, creating the effect of a curved mirror. The visualization at different angles shows the remnants of stars that died as a result of supernova explosions.
What does a black hole look like?
If you look at this visualization, you do not fully understand what is happening, we tell. One of the most noticeable features of this video is the “accretion disk” of the black hole – a hot, thin, rotating disk formed by a substance that slowly spirals into the center of the object. As the substance is absorbed, the light emitted by it is distorted, creating a characteristic appearance.
The substance in the disk that is closest to the center moves incredibly fast, spinning at a speed close to the speed of light. Meanwhile, the outer parts of the disk move a little slower. When we look at the black hole from the side, the left part of the accretion disk looks brighter than the right. This can be explained by a phenomenon known as “Doppler radiation,” in which the apparent brightness of a substance moving at a speed close to the speed of light changes under the influence of the phenomena described by Albert Einstein's theory of relativity.
However, when we look directly at the black hole, the differences in brightness are not visible, because the substance does not move on the disk. At the center of the visualization is an area devoid of light, known as the “shadow of a black hole”, which is about two times larger than the event horizon — a point outside the black hole where, due to strong gravitational attraction, even light cannot escape. Outside the event horizon, all the known laws of physics do not work, and gravity is infinite.
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Finally, an attentive observer will pay attention to the “photon ring” framing the center of the black hole. It looks almost identical from any angle in the visualization. In fact, light can revolve around a black hole several times before slipping away and becoming visible to us.
How was a black hole visualized?
Visualization creator Jeremy Schnittman, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland (USA), believes that such simulations help to understand exactly what Albert Einstein had in mind when he described how gravity distorts the fabric of space-time. Scientists note that until recently, visualizations were limited by imagination and computer programs. Now, thanks to the efforts of specialists, we can see how a real black hole lives.
Recall that in April of this year, scientists working with the Event Horizon global network of radio telescopes went down in history by showing the world an image of a black hole located in the center of the M87 galaxy, which is located 53 million light-years from Earth. According to experts, in almost every galaxy in the Universe in the center there is a supermassive black hole.
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According to the scientists who worked on the creation of the video, the process was divided into two stages. First, a computer program was written to calculate how light moves around a black hole and how it will look from afar. Then, other elements revolving around a black hole, including magnetic fields, were modeled. What we see on the video appeared as a result of combining the two programs.
The joint use of such videos with other scientific data allows us to understand how beautiful and at the same time frightening is the general theory of relativity. Let's imagine that space travel has become a reality. How would an astronaut see a black hole, being nearby? Experts believe that what he would see looked almost the same as in the video.