April 1, 2023


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Black holes absorb light but also produce shadows. How does that happen?

Black holes themselves do not emit light, nor do they reflect or refract light from their surroundings. As a result, the wiggle room in the course of searching for these things is very limited. Usually, the best chance of success is noticing their impact on the environment.

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To this end, astronomers focus on searching for so-called accretion disks. These black holes spin in orbit and are composed of matter falling into the event horizon. As it approaches the black hole, it heats up and begins to emit high-energy radiation. Accretion disks have already been observed in a variety of black holes, from stellar clusters to supermassive ones.

Using the ETH telescope (Event Horizon Telescope) Scientists have been able to directly image matter in the environment of two supermassive black holes. One was in the Milky Way, while the other was home to the Virgo A galaxy. In the images taken, you can see the glow surrounding… space.

Black holes contain accretion disks, regardless of their size

Within this void, of course, is a black hole, but its actual size is much smaller than the size of the entire region would suggest. Greatness is amplified by the shadow cast by the event horizon. It is he who absorbs the light emitted by objects behind the black hole. In addition, the black hole’s strong gravity can enlarge and bend images, which is why the shadow appears larger than the event horizon.

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Black holes are very mysterious objects with many mysteries waiting to be solved. In the center of our galaxy is Sagittarius A *, which has a mass of about 4 million suns. As for black holes closest to Earth, a black hole was recently found just 1,600 light-years away. Given the difficulties in observing, we can assume that in the future astronomers will recognize other black holes much closer.