In April of 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration history made history when it released the first image of a black hole ever taken. This accomplishment was decades in the making and triggered an international media circus. The picture was the result of a technique known as interferometry, where observatories across the world combined light from their telescopes to create a composite image.
This image showed what astrophysicists have predicted for a long time, that extreme gravitational bending causes photons to fall in around the event horizon, contributing to the bright rings that surround them. Last week, on March 18th, a team of researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) announced new research that shows how black hole images could reveal an intricate substructure within them.
The study that describes their findings, titled Universal interferometric signatures of a black holes photon ring, recently appeared in the journal Science Advances. The team was led by Michael Johnson, an astrophysicist with the CfA, and induced members from Harvards Black Hole Initiative (BHI), Los Alamos National Laboratory, Princeton Center for Theoretical Science, and multiple universities.
As Johnson explained in a recent CfA press release:
The image of a black hole actually contains a nested series of rings. Each successive ring has about the same diameter but becomes increasingly sharper because its light orbited the black hole more times before reaching the observer. With the current EHT image, weve caught just a glimpse of the full complexity that should emerge in the image of any black hole.
As the law of General Relativity tells us, gravitational fields alter the curvature of spacetime. In the case of a black hole, the effect is extreme and causes even light (photons) to infall around them. These photons cast a shadow on the bright ring of infalling gas and dust that is accelerated to relativistic speeds by the black holes gravity.
Around this shadowed region is a photon ring produced from photons that are concentrated by the strong gravity near the black hole. This ring can tell astronomers a lot about a black holes since its size and shape reveal the mass and rotation (aka. spin) of the black hole. Because of the EHT images, black hole researchers now have a tool with which to study black holes.
Since the 1950s, astronomers have learned a great deal about them by studying the effect they have on their surrounding environment. In other words, the study of black holes has been indirect and theoretical in nature. But with the ability to take images of these celestial objects, astronomers can finally study them directly and glean real data.
George Wong, a physics graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was responsible for developing software to produce simulated black hole images. This software is what allowed for images that were of the highest resolution to date to be computed and allowed their team to decompose them into the predicted series of sub-images. As Wong indicated:
Bringing together experts from different fields enabled us to really connect a theoretical understanding of the photon ring to what is possible with observation. What started as classic pencil-and-paper calculations prompted us to push our simulations to new limits.
What was especially surprising to the researchers, however, was how the substructure revealed by the black hole image creates new opportunities for research. While the subrings they revealed are normally invisible to the naked eye on images, they produce very clear signals when observed by arrays of telescopes using interferometry.
This presents astronomers with a relatively easy way to expand on the work conducted by the EHT collaboration thus far. While capturing black hole images normally requires many distributed telescopes, the subrings are perfect to study using only two telescopes that are very far apart, said Johnson. Adding one space telescope to the EHT would be enough.
The fields of astronomy and astrophysics have experienced multiple revolutions in recent years. Between the first-ever observations of interstellar objects, the confirmation of gravitational waves, and the first direct observations of a black hole. These firsts have enabled research that promises to unlock a number of enduring mysteries about the cosmos.
The teams research was made possible in part by grants issued by NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DoE), and multiple scientific and research foundations.
Further Reading: CfA
Originally posted here:
- Mystery of a massive neutron star merger in Milky Way explained by new astrophysics theory - Firstpost - May 20th, 2020
- UWMadison astrophysicists donate computing resources to aid COVID-19 research | WIPAC - Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center - University of... - May 20th, 2020
- Astronomers discover a massive rotating disk galaxy in the early universe - UC Santa Cruz - May 20th, 2020
- This Bionic Eye Is Better Than a Real One, Scientists Say - Futurism - May 20th, 2020
- Formation of pair of baby planets around their parent star captured in remarkable first - Firstpost - May 20th, 2020
- Biggest influencers in big data in Q1 2020: The top companies and individuals to follow - Verdict - May 20th, 2020
- Embedded in the community: Outstanding physics student is a third-generation ASU student - ASU Now - May 19th, 2020
- Peter Brancazio, Who Explored the Physics of Sports, Dies at 81 - The New York Times - May 19th, 2020
- Scientists have discovered a star that is almost as old as the Universe, is in its last stages of life - Firstpost - May 19th, 2020
- Russian Astrophysicists Trace Neutrinos Mysterious Ghost Particles From Where No One Had Expected - SciTechDaily - May 19th, 2020
- The Weight of the Universe Physicists Challenge the Standard Model of Cosmology - SciTechDaily - May 19th, 2020
- Hot Super-Earth Discovered Orbiting Ancient Star | Astronomy - Sci-News.com - May 19th, 2020
- Exploring Astronomy Club and enduring COVID-19 The Mesa Press - Mesa Press - May 19th, 2020
- Astronomers Find Earth's Closest Black Hole (So Far) - The Wire - May 11th, 2020
- A long-lost type of dark matter may resolve the biggest disagreement in physics - Times Famous - May 11th, 2020
- Student mothers describe increased stressors as COVID-19 mixes home and work - Daily Northwestern - May 11th, 2020
- Search For Intelligent Alien Life: Galaxies That Are More Likely to Harbor Technologically Advanced Civilizations - SciTechDaily - May 11th, 2020
- UWMadison announces its fourth round of cluster hires - University of Wisconsin-Madison - May 11th, 2020
- A mystery solved? Fast Radio Burst detected within Milky Way - News Info Park - May 11th, 2020
- Here's How to Spot the Starlink Satellite Cluster in the Sky This Month - Our Community Now at Maryland - May 11th, 2020
- Astronomers find closest known black hole to Earth, hints of more - KING5.com - May 6th, 2020
- Lessons from above: U of T astronomers help bring the heavens into homes during COVID-19 - News@UofT - May 6th, 2020
- Super Flower Moon 2020: All you need to know about the last super moon of this year - Jagran English - May 6th, 2020
- The Inconstant Universe Weird Findings Point to a New Physics - The Daily Galaxy --Great Discoveries Channel - April 29th, 2020
- Astronomers Have Watched a Nova Go From Start to Finish For The First Time - ScienceAlert - April 29th, 2020
- Experimenting in the Universe's Laboratory - NC State News - April 29th, 2020
- NSF funds RIT researchers to develop code for astrophysics and gravitational wave calculations - RIT University News Services - April 29th, 2020
- The American Academy of Arts and Sciences Inducts 12 Columbia Faculty Members - Columbia University - April 29th, 2020
- WATCH: Eyewitness News talks with NASA astrophysicist about Hubble Space Telescopes 30th Anniversary - Eyewitness News (WEHT/WTVW) - April 29th, 2020
- Hungry galaxies grow fat on the flesh of their neighbours - UNSW Newsroom - April 29th, 2020
- UAH reports record research results of $109.7 million in 2019: NSF survey - UAH News - April 29th, 2020
- The College honors outstanding academic achievement with 2020 Dean's Medals - ASU Now - April 29th, 2020
- Asteroid set to miss Earth, so there's one less worry - ANU College of Science - April 29th, 2020
- HPU Students, Faculty and Staff Recognized for Research and Innovation - High Point University - April 29th, 2020
- Q&A: Putting the Sky in Everyone's Hands - Physics - April 27th, 2020
- Astronomers Watch a Nova Go From Start to Finish for the First Time - Universe Today - April 27th, 2020
- A Star is Orbiting the Milky Way's Black Hole and Moving Exactly How Einstein Predicted it Should - Universe Today - April 27th, 2020
- New Theory and Space X-Rays - What Does It Entail? - Communal News - April 27th, 2020
- The silliest string-theory alternative yet draws inspiration from video games - The Next Web - April 27th, 2020
- This planetary system's perfect rhythm tells us a lot about how it came to be - The Next Web - April 27th, 2020
- Astronomers Find a Six-Planet System Which Orbit in Lockstep With Each Other - Universe Today - April 27th, 2020
- 5 things to know about Colts new RB Jonathan Taylor - Colts Wire - April 27th, 2020
- This planet is so scorching that metals actually vaporize into the atmosphere - SYFY WIRE - April 27th, 2020
- Infinite Visions Were Hiding in the First Black Hole Images Rings - The New York Times - March 31st, 2020
- New mission would provide a road map in the search for alien atmospheres - CU Boulder Today - March 31st, 2020
- Pollution down, sky clearer: Amateur astronomers have a good time - Hindustan Times - March 31st, 2020
- April's full moon is a supermoon, and rises on the 7th - Brainerd Dispatch - March 31st, 2020
- Mystery of Supermassive Black Holes Shortly After the Big Bang Explanation Discovered - SciTechDaily - March 31st, 2020
- Educational Shows For Kids to Stream From Home - Den of Geek UK - March 31st, 2020
- Universities Space Research Association's Adam Goldstein Named Co-Investigator on NASA's Recently Elected Proposed Mission on LargE Area burst... - March 26th, 2020
- The Mystery of Supermassive Black Hole Formation - AZoQuantum - March 26th, 2020
- The true impact of SpaceXs Starlink constellation on astronomy is coming into focus - The Verge - March 26th, 2020
- Mobile astronomy: Put the Milky Way in your pocket with 'Our Galaxy' smartphone app - Space.com - March 26th, 2020
- An Interview With Matthew Mercer About The Explorers Guide To Wildemount - Forbes - March 26th, 2020
- Scientists Made an Explanation of Why Time Cannot Be Reversed - Somag News - March 26th, 2020
- Birmingham scientist recognised with international physics prize - University of Birmingham - March 16th, 2020
- 'Minor planet' bonanza: 139 new objects discovered beyond Neptune - Space.com - March 16th, 2020
- Here's how a massive new telescope will revolutionize our view of the sun - Space.com - March 16th, 2020
- The universe may have been filled with supermassive black holes at the dawn of time - Livescience.com - March 16th, 2020
- This astrophysicist could become the first non-binary person to lead a major political party in Canada - PinkNews - March 16th, 2020
- We're not saying flee this doomed Earth... but 139 minor planets were spotted at the outer reaches of our Solar System. Just an FYI, that's all - The... - March 16th, 2020
- Data Science, AI, and Space Are All Connected for New AAS Fellow Kirk Borne - CSRwire.com - March 16th, 2020
- Hear From Immigrants and Refugees in Their Own Words - The Nation - March 16th, 2020
- Big telescopes join hunt for things that go flash in the night - Science Magazine - February 12th, 2020
- Black holes echoing through spacetime could be telling us they arent what we think they are - SYFY WIRE - February 12th, 2020
- As era of commercial spaceflight dawns, U of T alumna seeks to deliver health care among the stars - News@UofT - February 12th, 2020
- Why the suns mysteries could soon be revealed - Christian Science Monitor - February 12th, 2020
- Breaking the glass ceiling: When it comes to science, Polish women are on the up - The First News - February 12th, 2020
- Elon University's new 10-year plan includes an innovation quad, new nursing programs and lots more dorm rooms - Greensboro News & Record - February 12th, 2020
- Supercharged Light Pulverizes Asteroids Cascade of Destruction - SciTechDaily - February 12th, 2020
- Features | Things I Have Learned | Six Organs Of Admittance's Ben Chasny On Stargazing - The Quietus - February 12th, 2020
- Polar Express: New Spacecraft Will Explore Elusive Parts Of The Sun - OPB News - February 12th, 2020
- This Is Wild: Astrophysicists Can See Stars Twisting Space and Time - Popular Mechanics - February 1st, 2020
- An astrophysicist honors citizen scientists in the age of big data - Science News - February 1st, 2020
- Department of Energy to use IU's Big Red 200 supercomputer; Purdue University Fort Wayne offering astronomy concentration - FW Business - February 1st, 2020
- Figuring out what the Milky Way looks like is akin to a murder mystery - New Scientist - February 1st, 2020
- Black holes caught in the act of swallowing stars - Science Magazine - February 1st, 2020
- Spacing Out: How AI Provides Astronomers with Insights of Galactic Proportions - IT News Online - February 1st, 2020
- I'd like to boldly go where everyone ought to be headed by now, by Susie Reing - The Keene Sentinel - February 1st, 2020
- Is there a 2nd planet orbiting Proxima Centauri? - EarthSky - February 1st, 2020