This new visualization of a black hole illustrates how its gravity distorts our gaze, distorting its surroundings as if seen in a carnival mirror. The visualization simulates the appearance of a black hole in which the incident matter has gathered into a thin, hot structure called a storage disk. The extraordinary gravity of the black hole distorts the light emitted by different sections of the disc, resulting in the wrong appearance.
Bright nodes are continually formed and scattered in the disk as the magnetic fields wind and twist through the flowing gas. Closest to the black hole, gas travels around the speed of light, while the outer parts rotate a little more slowly. This difference stretches and cuts the bright knots, creating light and dark canvases in the disc.
When viewed from the side, the disc looks brighter on the left than on the right. The glowing gas on the left side of the disk moves so fast that the effects of Einstein's relativity give it a boost in brightness; the opposite happens on the right side, where the gas that moves away from us becomes slightly darker. This asymmetry disappears when we see the disc right on it, because from this point of view none of the material moves along our line of sight.
Closest to the black hole, the gravitational bending of the light becomes so excessive that we can see the underside of the disk as a bright light ring, clearly outlining the black hole. This so-called "photonic ring" is made up of many rings that progressively become paler and thinner, than light that circles the black hole two, three, or even more times before it escapes to reach our eyes. Because the black hole modeled in this rendering is spherical, the photon ring looks almost circular and identical from every viewing angle. Inside the photonic ring is the shadow of the black hole – an area roughly twice the event horizon – its point of no return.
"Simulations and movies like these really help us visualize what Einstein meant when he said gravity distorts the fabric of space and time," explains Jeremy Schnittman, who generates these magnificent images using personalized software at the NASA's Goddard space flight to Greenbelt, Maryland. "Until recently, these visualizations were limited to our imagination and computer programs. I never thought it would be possible to see a real black hole." However, on April 10, the Event Horizon Telescope team released the first ever shadow image of a black hole using radio observations from the heart of the M87 Galaxy.
Lighting of shedding on black holes
NASA's Gosdard Space Flight Center
NASA preview reveals a twisted world of a black hole (2019, September 25)
retrieved September 25, 2019
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