Image credit: Zdeněk Bardon / ESO.
They have been able to see the farthest side of a black hole for the first time, confirming the theory of relativity that Albert Einstein formulated more than a century ago
Astrophysicist Dan Wilkins and a team of scientists from Stanford University have discovered a series of X-rays released by a black hole in a galaxy that is 800 million light years from Earth. So far, nothing abnormal because it is a material that escapes from black holes in the form of bursts that can be captured by the most powerful telescopes. However, this time there was something different. Dan Wilkins found that there were a series of X-ray flashes that occurred later than the usual bursts and that they were also of different colors. And, if that wasn’t enough, they came from the far side of the black hole: “Any light that enters that black hole does not come out, so we should not be able to see anything behind it.”
Speaking to CNN, the astrophysicist adds that “the reason we can see that is because that black hole is warping space, bending light and twisting the magnetic fields around it.” And that observation has allowed us to verify and confirm one of Albert Einstein’s most important theories: that of relativity.
Roger Blandford, professor of physics at Stanford University and co-author of the study that has been published in the journal ‘Nature’, explains that “50 years ago, when astrophysicists began to speculate on how the magnetic field could behave near a hole Black, they had no idea that one day we might have the techniques to observe it directly and see Einstein’s general theory of relativity in action. “
Einstein assured 100 years ago that gravity is the matter that warps space-time and that theory of relativity is more valid today than ever. It has been verified thanks to those X-rays that come out of some black holes and that form crowns that researchers can study and even map. According to Wilkins, “this magnetic field, which binds and approaches the black hole, heats everything around it and produces these high-energy electrons that then produce X-rays.” But what the researchers discovered were smaller flares thanks to the larger X-rays “bending around the black hole from the back of the disk.” That was what allowed them to look at the far side of the black hole and complete their theories: “I had been making theoretical predictions for a few years about what these echoes look like. I had already seen them in the theory that I have been developing, so once I saw them in the telescope observations, I was able to make the connection. “
“The magnetic field heats everything around it and produces electrons that then generate X-rays” To continue understanding those crowns that form in black holes, more powerful observatories are needed, such as the one launched by the European Space Agency in 2031, called Athena. Dan Wilkins acknowledges that it will have “a much larger mirror than we have ever had in an X-ray telescope and it will allow us to obtain higher resolution looks in much shorter observation times. The image that we are beginning to obtain from the Data at this point is going to be much clearer with these new observatories. “