Science

These Black Hole Images May Prove Einstein’s Theory Of Relativity Wrong

By Rodney Rafols , Nov 05, 2016 02:24 AM EDT

Black holes continue to elude astronomers. That is not strange, given that they are the collapsed remnant of a star, or perhaps something larger. Astronomers theorize that galaxies have supermassive black holes in their centers. Black holes cannot be directly seen, but these black hole images may prove Einstein's theory of relativity wrong.

Astrophysicist Dimitrios Psaltis is a lead scientist on the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project and a Professor of Astronomy and Physics at the University of Arizona. He and his wife, former Radcliffe fellow Feryal Ozel, and 100 other researchers are making an effort to get the first ever image of a black hole. They work along with a network of super powered telescopes around the world. All of them are aimed at one particular place, and that is Sagittarius A*.

At the location of Sagittarius A* is a supermassive black hole, which is at the center of the Milky Way. Psaltis and his team would be working on the simulations and refine them in order to get the size and shape of the supermassive black hole. What his team aims to get is an image of the black hole's shadow, which is the closest possible image that can be made.

Around the black hole is swirling material of gases and other objects, which can be detected since they can be millions of degrees hot as they fall into the black hole's event horizon, according to Phys Org. This swirling material is called an accretion disk, which is formed as material go around the black hole before going in. To get the image of the black hole, its silhouette or shadow is shown, which can be seen through the accretion disk.

In order to achieve this, Psaltis and his team has gone to some lengths with the computer's graphics card. They have programmed it so that it can render a black hole if it's present. In that way, they can see if Einstein's theory of relativity is correct or not. If the black hole rendered is round, then that would mean the theory is correct. Any other shape though would mean that it might not be so, as the Harvard Gazette states.

"If the theory is different, both the size and shape would be different," Psaltis said. He added that the shape of the shadow can also tell how the gravitational field outside the black hole is. He also noted that the plasma around the black hole becomes more transparent as it goes up in frequency. The black hole's shadow then can be seen at a one millimeter frequency.

Time will tell whether these black hole images may prove Einstein's theory of relativity wrong, or otherwise. The project would be an exciting one, as it might be the first time a black hole can be seen. A large wandering supermassive black hole has also been reported earlier.

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