In April, an international team of scientists took the first ever photo of a black hole. In September, they received a $ 3 million prize for this achievement. But they are not finished yet.
The Event Horizon (EHT) team is now planning a cinematic debut. Topic: A supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy.
A new project called the Next Generation EHT (ngEHT) aims to capture real-time videos of the black hole of the Milky Way to watch its behavior and see
"We can see how the black hole develops in real "Shep Doelman, an astronomer who heads the global EHT team, told Business Insider. "Then we can understand how it launches these jets coming from its north and south poles. We can see how it evolves with the galaxy. We can even test Einstein's gravity in completely different ways, looking at the orbits of matter ̵
Videos can capture how black holes devour large objects
A black hole in an innovative photo published in April known as the M87. In the image (right), the yellow-red ring is a cumulative disk – rotating masses of superheated gas and dust from dead stars, planets, and other objects. In the case of the M87, this disk is larger than our entire solar system.
The darkness inside the disk is the event horizon – the point at which the gravitational force of a black hole is so strong that even light cannot travel fast enough to escape. (Of course, the absence of light makes it extremely difficult to photograph or shoot a black hole.)
"This tells us so much," Doeliman said of the photo. "It tells us that gases are moving around the black hole at almost the speed of light. It tells how the black hole is oriented in space. This confirms Einstein's gravitational theory very close to the black hole's boundary. Once you get a tool that gives you have access to the inner workings of space, you just want to do more right away. "
That's why the ngEHT team returns their global telescope network to the M87 and to the black hole at the center of our galaxy.
The Event Horizon telescope consists of observatories around the world. Working together, they can function as a single "virtual" Earth-sized telescope. The group is working to add more telescopes to this network and use new computer technologies to process 10 times more data from these telescopes. By doing this, they think they will be able to shoot video from two black holes in about five years.
Doelman hopes that in the end, videos can reveal that a still image cannot: how these black holes devour matter.
Nowadays, Scientists can tell when far-off black holes have eaten something big (like a star) because events emit intense light that eventually reaches telescopes on Earth. Doelman believes that videos can capture events as they happen in real time.
"Imagine you could see a black hole during one of those periods of activity. You would see exactly where this issue came from," he said. "Understanding how this is happening tells us about the dynamics of the black hole and how they feed."
The Black Hole of Our Galaxy is the Perfect Movie Star
The M87, a black hole photographed by the EHT team, has a mass equivalent to about 6.5 billion suns. The black hole in the center of our galaxy, Sagittarius A * (pronounced "A-star") or Sgr A *, is much less massive; this is roughly equivalent to 4 million suns.
This means that the Sgr A * pulls less substance, giving it a much smaller storage disk than the M87. Because of this, matter circulates the black hole much faster, completing orbits in a few hours, unlike the weeks in the case of the M87.
"So the black hole of the M87, you can look at it from a week to the next, and not see too much difference," said Dowlman.
Because of this, the M87 Shooting Plan provides for a video that has been shot for months. This should be enough time for the matter to orbit several times around the black hole.
On the other hand, the EHT team hopes to get Sgr A * frames in real time as it changes faster and more noticeably when things are moving around
"[Sgr A*] very active, and you can see eight- nine orbits of material around this black hole, "Dowlman said.
He hopes to eventually make available to the public an hour of the frame black holes of our galaxy.