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Scientists spot light behind a black hole for the first time


In a short span of time, astronomers have brought us closer to black holes than ever, with unprecedented images of space giants. Now scientists for the first time visible the phenomena that occur behind them. As part of this discovery, researchers have witnessed and recorded light from the back of a supermassive black hole 800 million light-years away.

According to Stanford University astrophysicist Dan Wilkins, the latest breakthrough is “a key piece of the puzzle that leads to understanding” of how the universe came to be. What’s more, it looks like it confirms Einstein’s theory of relativity more than a century ago.

By studying the bright flares of X-rays emanating from the black hole, a feature known as the corona, the researchers also witnessed weaker flares of light. They were “glowing echoes” of flares bouncing off the gas behind the black hole. This phenomenon was first predicted by Einstein in his theory of relativity, published in 1916.



“Any light that enters this black hole won’t come out, so we shouldn’t see anything behind the black hole,” Wilkins explained. “The reason we can see this is because this black hole is curving space. by bending light and spinning magnetic fields around itself. “

The supermassive black hole is 10 million times more massive than our Sun and is located in the center of neighboring spiral galaxy I Zwicky 1. An international team of scientists witnessed the echo with the XMM-Newton space telescopes of the European Space Agency and NASA NuSTAR. Their findings were published in the journal. Nature

“The color of these flares, the color of these echoes, and the time they were delayed after the initial flare told us that they were echoes from a gas that is hidden from our view behind the black hole,” Wilkins said. “Some of them will shine back on the gas falling into the black hole, and this gives us a really unique insight into this material in its final moments before it gets lost in the black hole.”

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