A Giant Black Hole is Now Sparkling: Astronomers Explain Why


A few years ago, astronomers took observations between 2009 ad 2012 of a black hole at a center of a galaxy dubbed M87, 55 million light-years away, using prototype telescope arrays. Unfortunately, the team didn’t collect enough data for an image. 

But recently, they were trying to determine how the ring around the black hole varies over time, discovering there was enough data to prove a simulation of how the ring’s brightness changes. Here is what you need to know. 

A Brilliant Black Hole, Now in the Spotlight

Astronomers utilized a statistical simulation approach based on the framework used for the examination of the 2018 data. That data also represented the beginning point for their model, and the data collected from the prototype arrays were utilized to constrain it. The results were intriguing.

As predicted by general relativity, they discovered that the giant black hole shadow spotted in 2019 was persistent throughout the period, keeping the same diameter over the years. But that wasn’t all.

Looking closely at the image of M87*, astronomers noticed that part of the ring is shining a lot. What does it mean?

According to the astronomers, the uneven brightness is predicted by general relativity, known as the Doppler effect. As a side of the ring twirls towards us, the viewer seems brighter; the side that’s rotating away looks fainter. Further examination and the team discovered that the illuminated area isn’t fixed in place. It moves around and appears to spark or wobble. 

Possible Reasons

There could be many things causing the turbulence in the flow. The magnetic field system in the accretion disc is one. Or the magnitude of the black hole’s spin. It could also be influenced by magnetorotational instability or misplacement in the black hole’s spin. 

Unfortunately, the previous data is relatively weak, and it’s not possible to draw any conclusions. The Event Horizon Telescope, however, should offer more information soon. 


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