Scientists See the Backside of a Black Hole for the First Time, Prove Albert Einstein's Theory of General Relativity Correct - IGN

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IGN 29 July, 2021 - 05:05pm 80 views

Einstein's 1915 Theory of General Relativity predicted that the gravitational pull of black holes is so large that black holes warp the fabric of space, according to The Telegraph. His theory posited that this extremely massive gravitational pull was so massive that it twists magnetic fields and bends lightwaves near black holes.

"Fifty years ago, when astrophysicists started speculating about how the magnetic field might behave close to a black hole, they had no idea that one day we might have the techniques to observe this directly and see Einstein's general theory of relativity in action," Standford University professor and research report co-author, Roger Blandford, said.

Einstein's theory stated that because of how black holes warp the space fabric around them, it should be possible to see light waves ejected out of a black hole's backside as the twisted magnetic fields act as a mirror for the black hole. This theory was accepted by experts, according to The Telegraph, but it was never technically proven as it was always deemed an unobservable phenomenon.

As time has progressed, though, the mystery around black holes has grown more clear thanks to modern telescopes and the like. That's how Nature report author Dan Wilkins, a Standford University astrophysicist, and Blandford, were finally able to prove Einstein's theory correct, more than 100 years later.

The team used a special high-power X-ray telescope to look at and study a black hole 800 million light-years away at the center of a galaxy far, far away and what they discovered was that the light, in the form of X-rays, was being ejected out of the black hole's backside.

The Telegraph notes that black holes are born when massive stars explode into a supernova and collapse in on themselves. This creates a space material so dense and so black that it essentially swallows up everything around it, hence why they're called black holes.

When they observed the data they had collected, they discovered that the black hole they were studying was shooting X-rays directly at earth. That's totally normal. What wasn't normal was that the team also saw X-rays being shot out in the exact opposite direction as reflections, thanks to the black hole's twisted magnetic field.

This proves that Einstein's theory is correct. Black holes warp space fabric so much that their magnetic fields are able to mirror light waves shot out of a black hole's far side — without that mirror effect, scientists wouldn't be able to actually observe those far-side light waves, despite knowing them to be there.

If only Einstein knew that his theory would be proven correct just 66 years after his death.

For more about black holes, read this story about how humans can safely fall into a black hole in one very particular way, and then check out this new photo of a black hole and its surrounding magnetic fields. Read about how a black hole in the Milky Way seemingly changed the color of nearby stars after that.

Read full article at IGN

Immortality or spaghetti? What happens if you park inside a black hole?

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Has this ever happened to you? You’re cavorting through deep space at near the speed of light without a care of the world when, suddenly, you realize you forgot to replace the toner cartridge in your office printer back on Earth before you left.

Rather than face your disappointed co-workers after such an unforgivable oversight, you decide it would be best if you just stopped time and waited for them all to die before you return to work.

So, like any space traveler hip to the works of Albert Einstein, you decide to park your spaceship at the perfect edge of a black hole.

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Nothing good, that’s what. But it’s a lot of fun to talk about.

Einstein’s theory of general relativity tells us that an object placed perfectly at the edge of a black hole’s event horizon should be able to maintain a temporal dissonance.

In other words: a sufficiently strong gravitational pull such as that exhibited by a black hole should warp spacetime around it. If you were standing near the edge of a black hole and your buddy flew by in their spaceship, in the time it took for you to wave at them they’d have potentially aged by weeks, months, or even years.

And that’s because time is a vague concept used by physicists to explain the systemic changes which occur in our universe.

If we lived in total nothingness, nothing would ever happen, and there could be no concept of time. But, because things happen in the universe we live in, we use time to explain the observable differences between both similar and disparate events.

What’s awesome about things in the universe that have enough mass to have gravity is that they can actually change our experience of time.

In a way, this would make you immortal. But you’d never know it. Unfortunately for you and your crew, you’d all live relatively normal lives and eventually die of old age. A minute would feel like a minute, a year would feel like a year, and so on and so forth.

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Researchers see light 'echo' around black hole, backing Einstein's theory

NBC News 29 July, 2021 - 05:46pm

Black holes are regions in space-time where gravity’s pull is so powerful that not even light can escape its grasp. However, while light cannot escape a black hole, its extreme gravity warps space around it, which allows light to “echo,” bending around the back of the object. Thanks to this strange phenomenon, astronomers have, for the first time, observed the light from behind a black hole. 

In a new study, researchers, led by Dan Wilkins, an astrophysicist at Stanford University in California, used the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton and NASA’s NuSTAR space telescopes to observe the light from behind a black hole that’s 10 million times more massive than our sun and lies 800 million light-years away in the spiral galaxy I Zwicky 1, according to a statement from ESA

The light "echo" was first predicted by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity, published in 1916.

This study began with the researchers’ desire to expand our understanding of black hole coronas, which are the source of the X-ray light that often radiates from the vicinity of these objects. . Bright flares of X-ray light are emitted by gas that falls into black holes from their accretion disks, the disks of dust and gas that surround and “feed” these objects.

The team didn’t just observe this light, which is the first time it has been directly observed like this; they also took note of how the X-ray light changed color as it bent and moved around the back of the black hole. By observing the light’s journey around the back of the black hole, the researchers hope to understand more about what really goes on that close to these gravitational vortexes. 

Following this groundbreaking study, the team aims to create a 3D map of the black hole’s surroundings, according to the statement. They also hope to better understand black hole coronas and explore how the corona of a black hole is capable of producing these bright X-ray flares. 

This work was described in a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. 

Thanks to a gravitational trick, astronomers observed light from behind a black hole

Salon 29 July, 2021 - 02:07pm

When he did, Wilkins noticed additional, smaller, flashes of X-rays that were different "colors" than the bright flares. They also appeared to be delayed. This was strange, Wilkins said, as they expected the smaller flashes to be an "echo" of the first flashes.

They set about measuring the color of these X-rays, and the delay between them and the initial X-ray flash.

"We realized that these must be the echo coming from a bit of gas that should be hidden behind the black holes, so the gas on the other side of the black hole to us, " Wilkins said. It was as if they were seeing something on the "far side of the black hole we shouldn't be able to see — because anything that goes into the black hole can't come out," he added. "If something's on the other side of the black hole from us, the light shouldn't be able to get through the black hole towards us."

But black holes do not eclipse light the way a moon or a planet might. Because of their intense mass, light bends and curves around them, like cars driving on a straight street suddenly swerving around a pothole. 

It turns out that what Wilkins and his team observed is the black hole warping space, and bending light around itself. (The research is detailed in a paper published July 28 in Nature). Though predicted by Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity, it has never been confirmed on such an extreme scale — in this case, astronomers detecting light [in the X-ray spectrum] being bent from the opposite side of a black hole.

"This means that these echoes of X-rays from the far side of the black hole don't have to travel through the black hole for us to see them," Wilkins said. "They can actually get bent around the black hole, which is why we can see them."

X-rays are typically observed when gas falls into black holes. Yet in those cases, the X-ray emissions are not from the black hole itself (from which light cannot escape) but from matter interactions near the event horizon, where particles can be accelerated to relativistic speeds and, in collisions, spew tremendous amounts of high-energy particles in all different directions. Typically, astronomers only observe these directly — they had never observed them as they were bent from the opposite side of a black hole, the researchers say. 

"Fifty years ago, when astrophysicists starting speculating about how the magnetic field might behave close to a black hole, they had no idea that one day we might have the techniques to observe this directly and see Einstein's general theory of relativity in action," said Roger Blandford, a co-author of the paper and a Stanford professor of physics, in a news release.

Avi Loeb, the former chair of the astronomy department at Harvard University (2011-2020) and founding director of Harvard's Black Hole Initiative, told Salon via email the paper is "interesting," though he questioned whether such an event had been observed previously in 2019.

"It finds that short flashes of light from behind the black hole are bent around the black hole and magnified by the strong gravitational field," Loeb said. "Observing light bent around the black hole confirms a key prediction of general relativity."

Loeb added that this was confirmed previously when the Event Horizon Telescope "obtained an image of the ring of light around the silhouette of the giant black hole in the galaxy M87." That image was famous for being the first direct image of a black hole, and was painstakingly produced after years of study and data analysis.

"That ring was also produced through bending of light by gravity near the black hole," Loeb noted.

Whether or not you are a stickler about the precise definition of "behind a black hole," the new study is historic in that there have been few such observations in astronomy history. Indeed, there is much to learn from a direct observation of black holes bending light, as black holes emit some of the most intense gravitational and electromagnetic fields of anything in the universe.

"By studying this, we can begin to understand how the brightest light sources in our whole universe work," Wilkins said. "But it's also an important piece of the puzzle to learn about how the galaxies formed and how the galaxy that we live in, the universe that we live in, really came into being."

But is there any way this incredible observation could have been a fluke? Wilkins doesn't think so.

"When we analyze the data, we try to rule out every other possibility, so we think about any other theories or any explanations that could mimic the same result," Wilkins said. "This bending of light around the black hole is the only thing we know off in the laws of science as we understand that's able to explain this."

Nicole Karlis is a staff writer at Salon. Tweet her @nicolekarlis.

Thanks to a gravitational trick, astronomers observed light from behind a black hole

Futurism 29 July, 2021 - 02:07pm

When he did, Wilkins noticed additional, smaller, flashes of X-rays that were different "colors" than the bright flares. They also appeared to be delayed. This was strange, Wilkins said, as they expected the smaller flashes to be an "echo" of the first flashes.

They set about measuring the color of these X-rays, and the delay between them and the initial X-ray flash.

"We realized that these must be the echo coming from a bit of gas that should be hidden behind the black holes, so the gas on the other side of the black hole to us, " Wilkins said. It was as if they were seeing something on the "far side of the black hole we shouldn't be able to see — because anything that goes into the black hole can't come out," he added. "If something's on the other side of the black hole from us, the light shouldn't be able to get through the black hole towards us."

But black holes do not eclipse light the way a moon or a planet might. Because of their intense mass, light bends and curves around them, like cars driving on a straight street suddenly swerving around a pothole. 

It turns out that what Wilkins and his team observed is the black hole warping space, and bending light around itself. (The research is detailed in a paper published July 28 in Nature). Though predicted by Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity, it has never been confirmed on such an extreme scale — in this case, astronomers detecting light [in the X-ray spectrum] being bent from the opposite side of a black hole.

"This means that these echoes of X-rays from the far side of the black hole don't have to travel through the black hole for us to see them," Wilkins said. "They can actually get bent around the black hole, which is why we can see them."

X-rays are typically observed when gas falls into black holes. Yet in those cases, the X-ray emissions are not from the black hole itself (from which light cannot escape) but from matter interactions near the event horizon, where particles can be accelerated to relativistic speeds and, in collisions, spew tremendous amounts of high-energy particles in all different directions. Typically, astronomers only observe these directly — they had never observed them as they were bent from the opposite side of a black hole, the researchers say. 

"Fifty years ago, when astrophysicists starting speculating about how the magnetic field might behave close to a black hole, they had no idea that one day we might have the techniques to observe this directly and see Einstein's general theory of relativity in action," said Roger Blandford, a co-author of the paper and a Stanford professor of physics, in a news release.

Avi Loeb, the former chair of the astronomy department at Harvard University (2011-2020) and founding director of Harvard's Black Hole Initiative, told Salon via email the paper is "interesting," though he questioned whether such an event had been observed previously in 2019.

"It finds that short flashes of light from behind the black hole are bent around the black hole and magnified by the strong gravitational field," Loeb said. "Observing light bent around the black hole confirms a key prediction of general relativity."

Loeb added that this was confirmed previously when the Event Horizon Telescope "obtained an image of the ring of light around the silhouette of the giant black hole in the galaxy M87." That image was famous for being the first direct image of a black hole, and was painstakingly produced after years of study and data analysis.

"That ring was also produced through bending of light by gravity near the black hole," Loeb noted.

Whether or not you are a stickler about the precise definition of "behind a black hole," the new study is historic in that there have been few such observations in astronomy history. Indeed, there is much to learn from a direct observation of black holes bending light, as black holes emit some of the most intense gravitational and electromagnetic fields of anything in the universe.

"By studying this, we can begin to understand how the brightest light sources in our whole universe work," Wilkins said. "But it's also an important piece of the puzzle to learn about how the galaxies formed and how the galaxy that we live in, the universe that we live in, really came into being."

But is there any way this incredible observation could have been a fluke? Wilkins doesn't think so.

"When we analyze the data, we try to rule out every other possibility, so we think about any other theories or any explanations that could mimic the same result," Wilkins said. "This bending of light around the black hole is the only thing we know off in the laws of science as we understand that's able to explain this."

Nicole Karlis is a staff writer at Salon. Tweet her @nicolekarlis.

Light from behind a black hole spotted for 1st time, proving Einstein right

Livescience.com 29 July, 2021 - 11:26am

The "luminous echoes" come from the rear part of the black hole’s corona

Alongside the expected X-ray flashes from the front of the black hole, the scientists also detected a number of "luminous echoes" from an origin they initially couldn’t place.

Stranger still, the out-of-place light bursts were smaller, arrived later and had different colors from the flares seen coming from the front of the black hole. 

This curved space, in turn, sets the rules for how energy and matter move. Even though light travels in a straight line, light travelling through a highly curved region of space-time, like the space around a black hole, will also travel in a curve — in this instance from its back to its front.

This isn’t the first time that astronomers have spotted a black hole distorting light, called gravitational lensing, but it is the first time that they've seen light echoes from the area behind the black hole.     

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The super-hot cloud, or corona, wraps around the black hole and gets heated up as it falls in. Temperatures in the corona can reach millions of degrees, according to the researchers, turning the cloud of particles into a magnetized plasma as electrons are ripped from atoms. The spinning of the black hole causes the combined magnetic field of the coronal plasma to arc high above the black hole and eventually snap, releasing X-rays from the corona as a result.

"This magnetic field getting tied up and then snapping close to the black hole heats everything around it and produces these high energy electrons that then go on to produce the X-rays," Wilkins said.

Now that the researchers have made this observation, their next steps will be to study in more detail how light bends around black holes and investigate the ways black hole coronas create such bright X-ray flashes.

The researchers published their findings July 28 in the journal Nature.

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Astrophysicists detect light coming from behind a black hole

SlashGear 29 July, 2021 - 09:49am

Astrophysicists from Stanford have reported the first detection of light coming from behind a black hole. The detection of light fulfills a prediction made by Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Researchers observed a series of bright flares of x-rays, which weren’t unexpected. What was unexpected was that the telescopes recorded additional flashes of x-rays that were smaller, later, and of different “colors” than the bright flares initially observed.

The researchers theorize that these luminous echoes are consistent with x-rays reflected from behind the black hole. Stanford University astrophysicist Dan Wilkins says light that goes into a black hole doesn’t come out, so we shouldn’t see anything that’s behind it. Walkins says the reason we’re able to see the x-rays from behind is because the black hole is warping space, bending light, and twisting magnetic fields around itself.

This is the first direct observation of light from behind a black hole, a scenario predicted by the theory of general relativity but never confirmed until now. The observation of light from behind the black hole wasn’t the goal of the research. The original motivation of the researchers was to learn more about a mysterious feature of some black holes called a Corona.

As material falls into a supermassive black hole, it creates some of the brightest continuous sources of light in the universe. As the light is created, it forms a corona around the black hole. Researchers note that the light is x-ray light and can be analyzed to map and characterize a black hole. The leading theory for what a corona is has to do with gas sliding into the black hole where it superheats to millions of degrees.

At such a high temperature, electrons separate from their atoms, creating magnetized plasma. Due to such high gravity around the black hole, the magnetic field arcs so high above the black hole and twirls around itself so much that it eventually breaks. The magnetic field gets tied up and then snaps close to the black hole and heats everything around it, producing high-energy electrons that produce x-rays. Observations of the black hole are ongoing and will leverage the ESA x-ray observatory called Athena in the future

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