Imaging Of Black Hole Can Confirm Einstein's Theory

Posted: Nov 4 2016, 3:26pm CDT | by , in Latest Science News


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Imaging of Black Hole Can Confirm Einstein's Theory
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Dimitrios Psaltis is a father of two and an astrophysicist at the University of Arizona, where he also teaches astronomy and physics. He recently tried to trace the outline of a black hole on the same computer he looks up pancake recipes. He was also the 2016-2017 Shutzer Fellow at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, in his spare time. He is working to capture the first image of the massive dark void in the Milky Way, which many scientists believe is sucking up any matter or radiation that comes too close. This is something that first studied in-depth by Albert Einstein when using his theory of general relativity and Stephen Hawking as well.

“In the morning, you do black holes,” said Psaltis, “in the evening, you make Nutella crepes for your kids.”

During his fellowship, Psaltis will look at the computer simulations that analyze EHT data to determine the size and shape of the black hole. The results could serve to prove Einstein's theory that gravity is due to the curvation of the continuum known as space-time.

“What we are looking for is not a description of gravity,” he said, “but the description that happens to be the one that describes our universe.”

To make those calculations, they will have to use photos of it - but that's difficult with a black hole. So you have to use its shadow.

According to the report from Harvard, "Swirling around Sagittarius A* are charged particles that have been ejected from the surface of nearby stars. Moving at supersonic speeds, those particles heat up millions of degrees to form a shining mass of plasma, or “accretion disk,” around the edge of the black hole before they are engulfed."

“The plasma is so hot that it is actually glowing in the radio waves detected by the telescopes,” said Psaltis. “You put a black hole in front of that glowing plasma and you get a shadow, you get a silhouette.”

Still, this is a time-consuming project. They had to hack into the computer and gave it something extra.

“We made it program those chips to do the rendering in the presence of a black hole. … Our codes are so fast that now we use a type of Xbox to control the process with our hands because there’s no way to type fast enough to do it."

If the image is round, Einstein was correct. If it starts to warp, it means they were wrong.

“That nice circle that you see here has a particular size, has a particular shape only because Einstein’s theory told us so,” said Psaltis. “If the theory is different, both the size and the shape will be different. The shape of the shadow can be used to tell us exactly what that gravitational field looks like outside that black hole,” he added. “And by measuring that, either we will be able to say if Einstein’s theory predicts it 100 percent, or if there are small tweaks that we need to add in order to get it right … this is the smoking gun as far as Einstein’s gravity is concerned.”

The project originally started at Harvard in the 1990s.

“We found that the plasma becomes more and more transparent as you go to a higher and higher frequency and that’s what we calculated, where you need to make that observation in order to be able to peer through the plasma,” said Psaltis. At one millimeter you “see the black hole’s shadow,” he said.

Hopefully we will have an answer soon.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/46" rel="author">Noel Diem</a>
Noel passion is to write about geek culture.




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