NASA visualizes a black hole's warped world

Humza

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Given the hostile nature of black holes, it is impossible to study these regions up close. The second best option is to come up with a visualization based on detailed data and distant observations in space. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, came up with such an illustration to give a high-res view of a black hole's warped world.

"Bright knots constantly form and dissipate in the disk as magnetic fields wind and twist through the churning gas. Nearest the black hole, the gas orbits at close to the speed of light, while the outer portions spin a bit more slowly. This difference stretches and shears the bright knots, producing light and dark lanes in the disk." said the space agency.

The extreme gravitational field of the black hole distorts the light emitted from different parts of the disk, and depending on the viewing angle, the greatest distortion can be observed by seeing it edgewise.

From the side view (shown above), the disk appears to be brighter on the left side as compared to the right. According to NASA, this happens due to the effects of Einstein's relativity that give a 'boost' to the glowing gas on the left, while the opposite is happening on the right where the gas moves away from this angle. If viewed face on, this asymmetry would disappear as none of the material will be moving along the line of sight.

Near to the black hole's center, a "photon ring" appears as a result of excessive gravitational light-bending. The ring contains multiple circles of fainting light that has orbited the black hole several times and escaped before reaching our eyes. Inside this ring is the black hole's shadow that's roughly twice the size of the event horizon, its region of space from which nothing can escape.

"Until very recently, these visualizations were limited to our imagination and computer programs. I never thought that it would be possible to see a real black hole." said Jeremy Schnittman, who generated these visuals using custom software.

Of course, it's good to remember that we did get to see the first-ever image of a real black hole back in April this year.

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A Black Hole is still a "collapsed star" so it's not necessarily a "hole in space"....

It's a place where gravity is so high that space and time don't follow normal laws of physics.
 
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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Personally I think we would all benefit if Mr. Musk would take one of his star cruisers out there and check it out, write a detailed report with photographs, and send it back to us .... assuming he can get the report and associated light to escape ..... do I hear a second to this motion?
 
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mbrowne5061

TS Evangelist
Personally I think we would all benefit if Mr. Musk would take one of his star cruisers out there and check it out, write a detailed report with photographs, and send it back to us .... assuming he can get the report and associated light to escape ..... do I hear a second to this motion?
Seconded.
 
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wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Finally! A visualization that actually makes physical sense, at least to me. Those "toilet flush", for example,

depictions from years past seemed just too unreal.
Personally I think we would all benefit if Mr. Musk would take one of his star cruisers out there and check it out, write a detailed report with photographs, and send it back to us .... assuming he can get the report and associated light to escape ..... do I hear a second to this motion?
Well, I agree with the intent, but that would, potentially, doom far future generations to suffer Musk's arrogance were he to survive and make it back. :laughing:
 

comnut

TS Rookie
A Black Hole is still a "collapsed star" so it's not necessarily a "hole in space"....

It's a place where gravity is so high that space and time don't follow normal laws of physics.
no actually its a 'hole in space-time'..and since normal laws of physics do not apply, it can be anything you wish...
just like a twister or whirlpool in the ocean- it sure looks like a hole... :)
many believe it could be a 'shortcut' to another part of the universe..
 
This looks like the black hole imagery created for Chris Nolan's movie Interstellar. They did have scientists consult them on that movie so it's no surprise that that depiction is more accurate than previous depictions.





https://www.wired.com/2014/10/astrophysics-interstellar-black-hole/

https://interstellarfilm.fandom.com/wiki/Gargantua

Not 100% accurate of course, but more accurate than previous depictions:
https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26966-interstellars-true-black-hole-too-confusing/
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
Personally I think we would all benefit if Mr. Musk would take one of his star cruisers out there and check it out, write a detailed report with photographs, and send it back to us .... assuming he can get the report and associated light to escape ..... do I hear a second to this motion?
Don't be impatient. Musk's Tesla roadster is on the way to one black hole or another. With a certified Tesla dummy at the wheel, it should be able to send as much detail back, as would Musk, were he personally behind the wheel.
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Personally I think we would all benefit if Mr. Musk would take one of his star cruisers out there and check it out, write a detailed report with photographs, and send it back to us .... assuming he can get the report and associated light to escape ..... do I hear a second to this motion?
Don't be impatient. Musk's Tesla roadster is on the way to one black hole or another. With a certified Tesla dummy at the wheel, it should be able to send as much detail back, as would Musk, were he personally behind the wheel.
That is Musk behind the wheel in the roadster. The dummy stayed behind. :laughing:
 

XtremeHammond

TS Booster
Interstellar's depiction is accurate because Kip Thorne is a Nobel-prize winner scientist who devoted his life to studying black holes. And he was one of those who came up with the concept of the film.

Moreover, after the film was released, creators published an academic paper on black hole visualisation. It's no surprise NASA has the same picture.
 

Mr Majestyk

TS Maniac
The laws of physics breakdown only at the singularity, not in the region between that and the event horizon.

Also note a rotating (or Kerr) black hole has a far more complex structure than a static (Shwarzchild) black hole and has a two event-horizons, the region between the inner and outer horizons is called the ergosphere and the singularity is actually a ring not a point. Inside the ergosphere matter cannot be stationary and must rotate the same direction as the central mass. But matter can escape from this region and extract energy form the black hole. It's actually more complex than this but this is a rough idea of how it works.