Black holes hold the secrets of the universe, and scientists are trying to get an up-close look at the most frightening place of all: the Event Horizon.
As we reported recently, scientists have just taken perhaps the most important image ever in the history of physics, using the Event Horizon Telescope to snap a photo of the event horizon of the supermassive black hole at our galaxy’s center. But what mysteries are scientists trying to unlock with this image, and what could a black hole tell us about our universe?
The data collected has been sent to supercomputers for crunching, and hopefully we’ll have the first complete picture of a black hole by early next year. The Event Horizon Telescope links telescopes from around the globe into one big one that has the diameter of the entire Earth to provide a clear picture of a black hole.
While we certainly know much more about black holes then we did in the 1800s when they were first theorized, there is so much we don’t know. Nothing can escape the event horizon of a black hole, not even light, so it makes it virtually impossible to study.
But if we could, we would learn so much about how our universe operates. The black hole introduces mysteries to our world that vex even the most famed scientists. Stephen Hawking struggles with the “information paradox,” which is created by the fact that the theory of general relativity predicts all physical information about material is destroyed by a black hole, but the laws of quantum mechanics say information is internal.
Others have postulated that black holes are possibly a portal to parallel worlds or other dimensions. Some even suggest that a black hole contains another universe entirely.
And all scientists agree that black holes are incredible objects that bend time and space itself, and that understanding more about them is key to a greater understanding of how we even came to be.
“A long standing goal in astrophysics is to directly observe the immediate environment of a black hole with angular resolution comparable to the event horizon,” the Event Horizon Telescope website states. “Realizing this goal would open a new window on the study of general relativity in the strong field regime, accretion and outflow processes at the edge of a black hole, the existence of an event horizon, and fundamental black hole physics. Steady long-term progress on improving the capability of Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) at short wavelengths has now made it extremely likely that this goal will be achieved within the next decade.
“The most compelling evidence for this is the recent observation by 1.3 mm VLBI of Schwarzschild radius scale structure in Sgr A*, the compact source of radio, submillimeter, near infrared and X-rays at the center of the Milky Way. Sgr A* is thought to mark the position of a ~4 million solar mass black hole, and because of its proximity and estimated mass presents the largest apparent event horizon size of any black hole candidate in the Universe.”