How black holes swallow light, warp space-time and blow your mind
Tonight, ever since the dawn of time, humankind has been thirsting for a way to name the unnameable, express the inexpressible, looking up into space and crying out, tell me more.
And now, we've done it, we finally have a picture of a black hole.
I'm Claire Riley for CNet, welcome to Watch This Space.
From the CNet Studios in Sydney, this is your guide to everything on Earth you need to know about space.
And tonight, scientists have done the impossible, and captured a picture of something no one has ever seen before.
No, it's not a mean tweet from Chrissy Teigen, that woman is an angel.
I'm talking about a black hole, those mysterious parts of the Universe that warp our minds and the very fabric of Space-Time itself.
You might think you've seen a black hole, but chances are, you think of this, a beautiful 3D render, created by NASA's graphic design department All this the haunting film clip to Soundgarden's black hole sun, but in actual fact black holes are much more enigmatic than either of those.
Yes, I just called [UNKNOWN] music fans turns out your not the most dark and mysterious thing in the universe.
Black holes are the original super on
But how, exactly, do they work?
How is it possible to have a region in space that you can't actually see?
Well, to explain, let's take a trip over to the science wall.
What is a black hole?
When is space time?
How do events horizon, and why did I fail year 12 physics?
Well, for this week's episode of Watch This Space, I decided to get to the source of all this information.
But after a bit of searching, I discovered wikiHow is woefully inadequate when it comes to explaining the general theory of relativity, who knew?
That said, I did learn how to dig a hole.
presumably by just staring at the lawn.
And I learned how to give my boyfriend space.
Gosh,that's a lot of teeth.
So when the bright minds at Wikihow failed me, I had to do the next best thing, go to NASA.
According to NASA a black hole is a region in space where the pulling force of gravity is so strong that light is not able to escape.
That kind of intense gravity is caused when a huge amount of matter is crammed into a really small space Kinda like the game of thrones recap that condenses seven seasons of material into three minutes of some vlogger just screaming at you on you tube.
The black hole is surrounded by a ring of swirling gas and dust and that its perimeter, the age of the black pot in the black hole is the event horizon.
That's the name given to the boundary where light cannot escape.
The point of no return if you will.
It's also the name of a delightful Sci-fi horror romp starring Sam Niel.
That movie wont teach you anything about actual science but its still fun.
There are three types of black holes the smallest one being the Primordial black hole.
According to NASA there about the size of an atom but with a mountain of mass inside.
The medium sizes black hole in this Goldilocks situation is a stellar black hole
Still a black holes cram the mass of about 20 suns into a bowl 10 miles across.
That's 20 suns across the length of Manhattan.
These are the most common in the universe, and we have dozens of them here in the Milky Way.
The biggest of the lot are the super-massive black holes.
Scientists have also theorized a size in between stellar and super-massive But the supermassive black holes are equivalent to roughly 1 million suns in a space the size of our solar system.
We have our own supermassive black hole at the center of this galaxy.
No, not that one, there we go.
Sagittarius A star is about the size of our sun but with 4 million times the mass.
If you're finding it hard to imagine a black hole that size, then Just picture the guy who spent two hours sucking the life out of your last dinner party talking about why Muse is actually redefining prog ROC.
Yeah, no light can escape that conversation.
So if black holes can't be seen, how do we know they're there?
Well kind of like that insufferable friend at your dinner party, we know they're there because of the effects they have on everything else.
Scientists use instruments like NASA's [UNKNOWN] x-ray observatory or the neutron star interior composition explorer or NASA onboard the international space station.
They use those instruments to measure x-rays from black holes to map their behavior And track the gases swirling into their black, black hearts.
But that's not the only way to look at black holes, and that leads us to the Event Horizon Telescope.
The Event Horizon Telescope is actually a group of telescopes dotted around the planet in place like Hawaii, Mexico, and the South Pole.
All these telescopes sync up to create an extremely precise planet-wide observatory.
And in 2017, they focused on the galaxy Messier 87 and then super-massive black hole at its center.
The telescopes in the array all collect light from the black hole, gathering petabytes worth of data.
All this information is pulled together from across the world, but because the array only uses a handful of telescopes, there are still gaps in the data it collects.
The scientists at the Event Horizon Telescope, used algorithms to fill those gaps, reconstructing the most-likely image of the black hole.
The Event Horizon Telescope began capturing data in 2006, and now it's finally come through with the goods.
After collecting petabytes of data from all across the world, the EHT has used it's super computers to give us the first image of a black hole.
Scientists hope this kind of image can give us more information about the area at the very center of the black hole beyond the event horizon.
This is when NASA has collapsed into a point of infinite density called a singularity.
This part of the black hole defies understanding and scientists hope that by studying the image of the black hole itself They can learn more about the physics fo black holes, what's beyond the event horizon and the basic principles underpinning our understanding of the Universe including Albert Einstein's theory of relativity.
So there you have it.
Scientists have captured an image of something we can't see to better explain something we don't understand about a place that's impossible to escape.
Yeah that's why I couldnt find it on Wikihow.
Alright that's this weeks edition of whats this space.
But in the meantime if you've enjoyed this weeks broadcast then click the like button on your remote and subscribe to get more space news.
I'm Claire Riley Festina and Gods speed.