Astronomers map magnetic fields around a black hole for the first time. It is the same black hole that scientists provided their first image two years ago.
Just like the first image of a black hole, the image was captured with an Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) and developed by astronomers at Radboud University (RU) in Nijmegen. The supermassive hole M87 * is located in the center of the Messier 87 galaxy, about 55 million light-years from Earth.
The image shows so-called magnetic field lines moving along the edge of a black hole. Magnetic fields are hundreds of times stronger than Earth’s magnetic field and the size of our entire solar system.
From this bright ring, extremely powerful plasma rays shoot across the entire Milky Way, the galaxy in which our solar system is located. These strong rays of energy and matter are so strong that they can originate from the core of a black hole and stretch for at least 5,000 light-years.
Light secret property
Magnetic fields can only be seen in what scientists call polarized light. Heino Falk, an astronomer and professor at RU, explains in a conversation with NU.nl.
Light cannot be seen with human eyes. So the picture is a perception of reality. In real life, red is redder than infrared. To make the magnetic fields visible, astronomers have used specific filters, similar to the lenses of sunglasses, says Falk, the man behind the first image of the black hole.
According to Falk, the image helps astronomers better understand and more accurately predict what will happen along the edges of a black hole. Moreover, astronomers hope to use the observations to explain how the body is able to “shoot” rays from its heart.
Black holes in short
- A black hole is an object in space where gravity is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape. Anyone who falls into a black hole is torn into a string of spaghetti.
- A black hole forms when a star explodes at the end of its life and collapses its remnants.
- Black holes are not visible, but the so-called event horizon is. This is an area where very little light can escape. Albert Einstein had already anticipated such a limit.
- Most galaxies have a black hole in the center. Also in the center of our galaxy is a black hole, Sagittarius A *.