For the first time in more than a century, astronomers were able to see the back of a black hole, proving that Albert Einstein was indeed right.
Einstein’s general theory of relativity
The Telegraph tells us that an international team of researchers has succeeded for the first time in seeing the back of a supermassive black hole 800 million light years from our planet. This enabled them to prove Albert Einstein’s theory about the behavior of these mysterious celestial objects.
These researchers used extremely powerful X-ray telescopes to study this black hole, which is located in the center of a distant galaxy. These astronomers observed the usual properties of a black hole, but they also discovered light in the form of X-rays emitted from the other side of the black hole.
For your information, black holes are born when a massive star explodes into a supernova and then collapses on itself. It then forms a mass of incomprehensible density that engulfs everything nearby. It should therefore logically be impossible to see light behind a black hole.
However, Einstein’s general theory of relativity predicted in 1915 that the gravitational pull of black holes is likely so phenomenal that it would distort the entire spatial structure, twist magnetic fields, and bend light.
As a result, Einstein’s work claimed that it should be possible to see the waves of light that are ejected from the other side of the black hole due to the distortion of the magnetic fields and then act like a mirror.
Experts accepted the theory, but have not yet been able to observe the phenomenon directly. But thanks to modern telescopes and the development of very sensitive instruments, this is now possible.
A great discovery
Dan Wilkins, astrophysicist at Stanford University, studied the mechanics of the destruction of atoms and electrons by a black hole, as well as the X-rays that are generated.
When he looked at the data, he saw what he expected, namely X-rays emitted from the core of the black hole directly onto Earth. But shortly afterwards he also saw unexpected echoes. They were X-rays projected in the opposite direction to Earth, but reflected from the black hole’s magnetic field.
This discovery, published in Nature, proves once again that Einstein was right and supports general relativity. Professor Roger Blandford of Stanford University, co-author of the study, said:
Little did they know when astrophysicists began speculating about the behavior of the magnetic field near a black hole fifty years ago that one day we would have the techniques necessary to observe and see it directly: Einstein’s general theory of relativity in action.
The mission to characterize and understand these celestial objects continues and requires further observation. Part of this future will be the European Space Agency’s X-ray observatory, Athena (Advanced Telescope for High-Energy Astrophysics). As a laboratory member of Steve Allen, Professor of Physics at Stanford and Particle Physics and Astrophysics at SLAC, Wilkins is involved in the development of part of the Wide Field Imager detector for Athena. Wilkins said:
The mirror is much larger than anything we’ve ever had on an X-ray telescope and allows us to get higher resolution images with much shorter observation times. So the picture we are going to get from the data now becomes much clearer with these new observatories.