Scientists Develop Method To Image Shadows Cast By Black Hole Binaries

The nuclei disappear below the horizon, the much lighter electrons get caught up in the black hole’s intense magnetic field and tosses them around at high speed. The new view captures light bent by the powerful gravity of the black hole. It comes just over three years after the same astronomers revealed the first ever photograph of a black hole.

Black holes are often clever plot devices in science fiction films, but these peculiar objects are real, although fiendishly tricky to comprehend… Effectively, things crossing the event horizon play no further part in the Universe. Well, sadly I’ve had to give up on being able to reach you or even get a signal from you.

The global collaboration of more than 200 scientists that made the image call their project the Event Horizon Telescope. In 2019 the collaboration revealed a similar-looking image of a mammoth at the heart of M87, a galaxy 50 million light-years away. That picture marked the first time the shadow of a black hole had been directly observed. Both images were made by combining data from eight observatories around the world, which effectively turned Earth into one big telescope. However, none of these theories explain the existence of supermassive black holes, which are millions to billions of times larger than the mass of own Sun.

This is the gargantuan black hole that lives at the centre of our galaxy, pictured for the very first time. As a body is crushed into a smaller and smaller volume, the gravitational attraction increases, and hence the escape velocity gets bigger. Eventually a point is reached when even light, which travels at 186 thousand miles a second, is not travelling fast enough to escape.

Let’s assume I am still in that distant space station you signalled for help. Time dilation means that from my perspective you actually start to slow down as you fall into the black hole. As far as I’m concerned, time is literally passing more slowly for you than for me. In fact, let’s assume you’re falling into an otherwise entirely quiet black hole and there are no jets or an accretion disc.

“But this new image is special because it’s our supermassive,” said Prof Heino Falcke, one of the European pioneers behind the EHT project. It is hoped that JWST’s sensors will allow the identification of small black holes that are yet to be detected, and peer back into the early universe to find out more about how the galaxy as we see it formed. They estimated that stellar black holes contain around 1% of the universe that we can see, which is the same mass as billions of galaxies. To investigate one potential source for these enormous objects, the researchers wanted to assess how many stellar black holes were in existence.