NASA Releases Mesmerising View of Black Hole
Image for representational use only.Image Courtesy : Forbes.
The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration’s imaging of a black hole was the first of its kind. This is one of the most important scientific achievements in the past decades. Black holes were predicted long back and theories regarding how a black hole behaves are also aplenty. But a real time view of a black hole was something extraordinarily remarkable. To image a black hole, scientists had to snap it from across the universe.
Moving a step ahead, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre has released a fascinating view of a black hole. The new visual is the outcome of a simulation, where it can be seen how the incoming matters into the black hole gets condensed into a thin and hot structure—an accretion disk. “This new visualisation of a black hole illustrates how its gravity distorts our view, warping its surroundings as if seen in a carnival mirror. The visualisation simulates the appearance of a black hole where infalling matter has collected into a thin, hot structure called an accretion disk. The black hole’s extreme gravity skews light emitted by different regions of the disk, producing the misshapen appearance,” reads the NASA release.
The mesmerizing visualisation was created by Jeremy Schnittman using the custom software at the Goddard Centre.
Black holes are formed as a result of the death of a large star. The black hole region in the space is so dense that even light cannot pass through it because of the extremely high strength of gravity in this region. Gas molecules, dust and space debris get pulled towards a black hole by extreme gravity. These particles swing around the hole infinitely and one can imagine this as swinging in an insanely fast and hot merry go round. The merry go round is the accretion disk—a bright circle of bunched up matters, which is the only visible portion of a black hole. The accretion disk could appear dramatically skewed depending upon the angle it is viewed from.
NASA’s visualisation also depicts the phenomenon known as Doppler Beaming. The image of the accretion disk that can be seen in it is actually from behind the black hole. To have a view of the cosmic giant from such an angle also makes matter appear much brighter on the left hand side than the right. This is because, the black hole is moving towards the viewer. This is the Doppler Beaming phenomenon. Due to Doppler Beaming, the level of brightness for light moving in such a way is increased and the opposite happens when it moves away from us. This made the image brighter and mesmerising.
Also visible in the visual is the photon ring. This is the bright ring-type region that outlines the black hole. The photon ring appears as gravitational light bending becomes so excessive that the underside of the disk appears as a bright ring.
“This so-called “photon ring” is composed of multiple rings, which grow progressively fainter and thinner, from light that has circled the black hole two, three, or even more times before escaping to reach our eyes. Because the black hole modelled in this visualisation is spherical, the photon ring looks nearly circular and identical from any viewing angle. Inside the photon ring is the black hole’s shadow, an area roughly twice the size of the event horizon — its point of no return,” explains NASA.
Image Courtesy: Goddard Space Flight Centre.
“Simulations and movies like these really help us visualise what Einstein meant when he said that gravity warps the fabric of space and time. Until very recently, these visualisations were limited to our imagination and computer programs. I never thought that it would be possible to see a real black hole,” Schnittman writes.
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