Friday, April 14, 2017

Will we ever be able to see black holes in space?

While it may seem impossible to actually photograph a black hole in space, it might actually soon be possible. Based on previous posts on this blog it seems as if we are a long way off from discovering, documenting, and photographing a black hole in space, but with some new developments in telescope networking a way to may speed up this process. National Geographic recently published an article titled "Astronomers May Finally Have the First Picture of a Black Hole" that describes how scientists might be able to photograph a black hole and what the significance of that would be.
The picture above shows what scientists would be using to possibly capture images of the supermassive black hole that is theorized to be at the center of the milky way galaxy. These radio dishes are part of the ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter Array) in Chile. Using this network of satellites and two space telescopes, we have been able to photograph the center of our galaxy. Some of the photos taken are seen below (as provided by National Geographic). 

These two photos show the pictures taken using the dishes and telescopes.

This picture above shows the theorized black hole at the center of another, distant galaxy. This was also provided by National Geographic. "In addition to supermassive black holes, astronomers have found indirect evidence for lighter black holes littering various galactic hosts, including the outburst captured here by a NASA x-ray telescope" (National Geographic).Essentially, this new method of using a combination of 66 radio dishes and super telescopes has paved the way to find all sorts of black holes, whether they be "supermassive" or "lighter" black holes. 

Again, you may wonder "what does this have to do with anything, what is the point of discovering black holes?" Well, it can help us learn more about a little thing called gravity for instance. These black hole discoveries can help us learn more about gravity by helping us better understand and test Einstein's theory of gravity. Radio astronomer Heino Falcke of Radboud University in Holland says "Even if the first images are still crappy and washed out, we can already test for the first time some basic predictions of Einstein's theory of gravity in the extreme environment of a black hole.” Einstein's theory of gravity states that "matter warps or curves the geometry of space-time, and we experience the distortion as gravity," and he predicted the existence of supermassive black holes. Falcke proceeded to say "they [supermassive black holes] are the ultimate endpoint of space and time, and may represent the ultimate limit of our knowledge." It is an accepted, but unproven that there is a supermassive black hole at the center of every galaxy and "only have circumstantial evidence" to support this claim. They might be able to attain a little more than just circumstantial evidence now. 

With new images such as the one taken above of "jets of high-speed particles spewing from the supermassive black hole at a galaxy's heart" scientists may be able to attain a better understanding of gravity. This is just a start because we still will have to study these black holes, this discovery is essentially just a way to be able to research black holes. The way this would help us confirm Einstein's theory is the ripples in space time created by the colliding of black holes, so if we know more about black holes we can know more about this theorized phenomenon. The video below better explains the spacetime ripple that could be created.

The picture below shows the map of where the telescopes and radio dishes were on the planet. 

Images and Information gathered from:

"Astronomers May Finally Have the First Picture of a Black Hole." National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 11 Apr. 2017. Web. 14 Apr. 2017.

Times, The New York. "LIGO Hears Gravitational Waves Einstein Predicted." The New York Times. The New York Times, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2017.

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