Pics in space #2

More space doughnuts.

Astronomers reveal first image of the black hole at the heart of our galaxyEvent Horizon Telescope
This result provides overwhelming evidence that the object is indeed a black hole and yields valuable clues about the workings of such giants, which are thought to reside at the centre of most galaxies. The image was produced by a global research team called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration, using observations from a worldwide network of radio telescopes.

When I first read about this new image of a black hole, I thought I’d best wait till that guy from Veritasium explained it, as he did such a clear job of the previous one.

A Picture of the Milky Way’s Supermassive Black HoleVeritasium: YouTube

How astronomers captured images of the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky WayLaughing Squid
Derek Muller of Veritasium explains how astronomers working with the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration were able to capture such amazing shots of Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole that sits at the center of the Milky Way.

The amount of work that’s gone into that image is incredible.

Supermassive black hole seen at the center of our galaxyThe Washington Post
The achievement, supported by the National Science Foundation, relied on contributions from more than 300 scientists at 80 institutions, including eight telescopes. One of the telescopes is at the South Pole. The data collected took years to process and analyze.

Observations of the central region of the galaxy are hampered by intervening dust and ionized particles. The Earth’s turbulent atmosphere further blurs the picture. The black hole itself is not visible by definition, but it is encircled by a swirl of photons that can be detected by the huge radio dishes. The black hole is not a static entity: It is “gurgling,” Ozel said. The appearance changes regularly, challenging the scientists to produce a singular image that fit what their telescopes had observed.

It’s not all glamour, though.

How we captured first image of the supermassive black hole at centre of the Milky WayThe Conversation
My role was to help write two of the six papers that have been released in the Astrophysical Journal Letters: the first one, introducing the observation; and the third one, in which we discuss how we made a picture out of the observations, and how reliable that image is. In addition, I was a “contributing author” for all six papers. This is an administrative role, in which I handled all correspondence between our team of over 300 astronomers and the academic journal that published our findings. This had its challenges, as I had to deal with every typo and every mistake in the typesetting.

But wait, there’s more.

NASA visualization rounds up the best-known black hole systemsNASA
This visualization shows 22 X-ray binaries in our Milky Way galaxy and its nearest neighbor, the Large Magellanic Cloud, that host confirmed stellar-mass black holes. The systems appear at the same physical scale, demonstrating their diversity. Their orbital motion is sped up by nearly 22,000 times, and the viewing angles replicate how we see them from Earth.

Overlooked gravitational wave signals point to ‘exotic’ black hole scenariosSpace
Over the past seven years, the researchers have observed 90 gravitational wave signals — ripples in the space-time continuum that indicate “cataclysmic events” such as black hole mergers, the research team said in a statement. They originally detected 44 such mergers during a six-month observational period in 2019, but a second look at the data using a different methodology revealed 10 additional ones.

And here’s a question I never thought to ask.

What do black holes sound like? Like a vision of heaven or hellIndependent
The trick for Nasa and the Chandra X-ray center was learning to shift the pitch of the Perseus black hole’s sounds into the range of human hearing. The black hole’s sounds naturally vibrate 57 octaves below middle C on the piano, and so they had to be scaled up by 57 to 58 octaves — an astonishing 288 quadrillion times higher than their original pitch.

The results are wildly different from the Messier 84 sonification. Where Messier 84 was sonorous and celestial, the Perseus signification is at times discordant, dark, and dirgeful, a sound perhaps more expected from a perfectly dark maw of an all-consuming abyss than the dulcet tones of Messier 84.

Author: Terry Madeley

Works with student data and enjoys reading about art, data, education and technology.

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