- A new picture of the famous black hole reveals its swirling magnetic field
- At a distance of nearly 55 million light-years from Earth, the supermassive black hole that sits at the center of galaxy Messier 87 was witnessed in a different avatar with the help of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT)
- The first direct photo of a black hole, originally released in 2019, has been made more detailed with the addition of polarised light measurements that show its swirling magnetic field
- It clearly shows the black hole’s outer region and how the matter flows in and rejects out. With this discovery, astronomers are trying to better understand why and how a black hole consumes matter in its orbit.
It was not long ago that black hole was just a theoretical concept. Physicists were mostly skeptical initially when the idea of them emerged a century ago from Einstein’s work. It was just two years ago when the breathtaking image of the black hole was seen by the world. The amazing yet obscure image of one of the true giants built by nature.
The visuals showed us blurry rings of red and yellow that could eat away any planet in seconds, gravity was so strong that even light can’t escape.
And just when we thought that this was the best image we can get for a black hole, researchers have captured the black hole in polarised light that shows the magnetic field and its interactions for the first time in space history.
Sitting at roughly 55 million light-years from Earth, the supermassive black hole that sits at the center of galaxy Messier 87 was witnessed in a different avatar with the help of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT).
An international team of astronomers (studies published in Astrophysical Journal Letters) measured the polarisation and were able to discover polarizations at the edge of the black hole — something that was never seen before.
Ever since its first discovery, researchers have dug deeper into the data collection that helped make its initial discovery possible.
How is the new black hole image different?
The first image from the Event Horizon Telescope — of a black hole at the center of galaxy Messier 87 — showed the false-color image of the radio signal displays flaming orange and yellow streaks, encircling an eerily dark central disk.
The final image showed a blurry visible light and its intensity, but this time, researchers observed the polarization of that light. This enabled astronomers to map the magnetic field lines that are on the inner edge of the black hole.
Researchers explain in the study, “Light becomes polarised when it goes through certain filters, like the lenses of polarised sunglasses, or when it is emitted in hot regions of space where magnetic fields are present.
In the same way that polarized sunglasses help us see better by reducing reflections and glare from bright surfaces, astronomers can sharpen their view of the region around the black hole by looking at how the light originating from it is polarised.
Specifically, polarisation allows astronomers to map the magnetic field lines present at the inner edge of the black hole.”
Polarisation image showcases the black hole in a different avatar. It clearly shows the black hole’s outer region and how the matter flows in and rejects out.
With this discovery, astronomers are trying to better understand why and how a black hole consumes matter in its orbit. They are also trying to figure out how it shoots out massive jet particles into outer space.