The world, it seems, is soon to see the first picture of a black hole.
On Wednesday, astronomers across the globe will hold "six major press conferences" simultaneously to announce the first results of the Horizon Telescope (EHT), which was designed precisely for that purpose.
It's been a long wait.
Of all the forces or objects in the universe that we can not see, including dark energy and dark matter, none has frustrated human curiosity so much as the invisible maws that shred and swallow stars
Astronomers began speculating about these omnivorous "dark stars" in the 1
"More than 50 years ago, scientists saw that there was something very "It's a gravitational pull that's strong enough to make stars orbit around it very quickly," said Paul McNamara, an astrophysicist at the European Space Agency, and an expert on black holes, AFP told AFP.
fast as 20 years. "
To put that in perspective, our Solar System takes about 230 million years to circle the center of the Milky Way
Eventually, astronomers speculated that these bright spots were in fact" black holes " Term coined by Americ an physicist at John Archibald Wheeler in the mid-1960s, surrounded by a swirling band of white-hot gas and plasma.
"The horizon of the horizon"
At the inner edge of these luminous accretion discs, things abruptly go dark. -Aa the point-of-no-return- "is not a physical barrier, you could not stand on it," McNamara explained.
"If you're on the inside of it, you can not escape because you would need infinite energy. And if you are on the other side, you can-in principle."
A golf ball on the moon
At its center, the mass of a black hole is compressed into a single, zero-dimensional point.
The distance between this so-called "singularity" and the horizon is the radius, or half the width, of a black hole.
The EHT that collected the data for the first-ever image is unlike any ever-designed.
"Instead of constructing a giant telescope, which would collapse under its own weight, we combined several observatories as if they were fragments of a giant mirror, "Michael Bremer, an astronomer at the Institute for Millimetric Radio Astronomy in Grenoble, told AFP.
In April 2017, eight such radio telescopes scattered across the globe in Hawaii, Arizona, Spain, Mexico, Chile, and the South Pole were trained in two black holes in very different corners of the universe to collect data. [
Oddsmakers Wish Astronaut A *, the black hole in the center of our own elliptical galaxy that first caught the eye of astronomers.
] Sag A * has four million times the mass of our sun, which means that the black hole generates is about 44 million kilometers across.
That may sound like a big target, but for a teleskop array on Earth, some 26,000 light -years (or 245 trillion kilometers) away, it's like trying to photograph a golf ball on the Moon.
The other candidate is a monster black hole-1,500 times more massive even than Sag A * -in an elliptical galaxy known as M87.
It's also a lot farther from Earth, but distance and size balance out, making it roughly as easy (or difficult) to pinpoint it.
One of the reasons why this dark horse might be the one shown next week is the light smog within the Milky Way
"We are sitting in the plain of our galaxy-you have to look through all stars and dust to get to in the center, "said McNamara.
The data collected by the far-flung telescope array still had to be collected and collated.
" The imaging algorithms we developed fill in the gap data we lack in order to reconstruct a picture of a black hole, "the team said on their website.
Astrophysicists not involved in the project, including McNamara, are eagerly-perhaps anxiously-waiting to see if the findings challenge Einstein's theory of general relativity, which has never been tested on this scale.
Breakthrough observations in 2015 that earned the scientists involved in a Nobel Prize used gravitation wave detectors to track two black holes smashing together.
As they merged, ripples in the time-space curvatures creating uni que, and detectable, signature
"Einstein's theory of general relativity says that this is exactly what should happen," said McNamara.
But those were tiny black holes-only 60 times more massive than the Sun-compared to either of the ones under the gaze of the EHT.
"Maybe those who are millions of times more massive are different – we just do not know yet."
© 2019 AFP
Scientists set to unveil first picture of a black hole (2019, April 6)
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