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Monday, October 3, 2022

Astronomers Observe a Ring of Light as Photons Orbit M87A*

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) initially saw a supermassive black hole at the centre of the Messier 87 (M87) galaxy

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Russell Chattaraj
Russell Chattaraj
Mechanical engineering graduate, writes about science, technology and sports, teaching physics and mathematics, also played cricket professionally and passionate about bodybuilding.

UNITED STATES: In 2019, astronomers teamed up to create the most powerful telescope ever, which they dispersed over the globe. The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) initially saw a supermassive black hole at the centre of the Messier 87 (M87) galaxy.

Even though the data processing produced an amazing visual, there was more to it than first appeared. Now that the data from the observation has been further processed and simulated using an imaging programme, researchers have discovered a behaviour that has never before been observed.

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A thin, dazzling ring of light, produced by photons blasted around the back of the enormous object by its strong gravity, is hidden behind the black hole. The results, which were obtained through simultaneous modelling and imaging of the 2017 Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) observations, have been published in The Astrophysical Journal. 

They describe measurements of the gravitationally lensed secondary image—the first in an infinite series of so-called “photon rings”—around the supermassive black hole M87*.

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The team, led by astrophysicist Avery Broderick, remastered the original image of the M87* black hole using imaging algorithms and dissected the imagery to reveal the surroundings of the black hole.

“In order to watch the firefly, we turned off the searchlight”. In a statement, associate professor at Perimeter Institute and the University of Waterloo Broderick said, “We have been able to accomplish something remarkable to resolve a fundamental signature of gravity surrounding a black hole”.

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The scientists isolated and extracted the characteristic ring feature from the initial observations of the M87 black hole using new imaging methods within the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) analytical framework. Additionally, they found the distinct trace of a strong jet shooting outward from the black hole. 

“The strategy we used involved developing a specific model for the EHT data using our theoretical understanding of how these black holes appear. This model separates the reconstructed image into the two components that we are most interested in, allowing us to examine each component separately rather than as a whole,” according to Dominic Pesce, a team member at the Center for Astrophysics.

In 2022, the EHT collaboration again made headlines for capturing the first image of the black hole at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy. The EHT collaboration had taken the first image of a black hole in 2019. We are 27,000 light years away from the black hole. Even though Sgr A* is far closer to us than M87 was three years ago, the researchers insisted that gazing at Sgr A* was more challenging.

Also Read: Black Hole’s Encounter Can Help in Understanding How the Universe is Expanding

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  • Russell Chattaraj

    Mechanical engineering graduate, writes about science, technology and sports, teaching physics and mathematics, also played cricket professionally and passionate about bodybuilding.

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