What pops into your mind when you hear the word “Black Hole”? Empty space? Well, a black hole is anything but an empty. Instead, it is a large amount of matter tightly squeezed into a very small area.
Imagine a star that’s five times massive than the sun. Now that star is squeezed into a spherical body that has a diameter of Texas. It results in a gravitational field so strong that not even light rays can escape its pull.
What do Black Holes Look Like?
Every black hole has three layers:
- The outer event horizon
- The inner event horizon
- The singularity
The black hole’s event horizon is the boundary around the black hole’s mouth around which not even light can escape. As soon as a particle crosses the event horizon, it can’t escape anymore, while the gravity remains constant across the event horizon.
The inner region of the black hole carries its mass, also called the singularity. It is the single point in space-time where all the mass of the black hole is packed.
Can Scientists See Black Holes?
Scientists can’t visualize or see the black holes as they see other stars and interstellar bodies in space. Instead, they rely on detecting the radiation that a black hole emits while engulfing dust and gas particles into its core.
Supermassive black holes that lie in the center of the galaxy may become shrouded by the thick dust and gas belt surrounding them, blocking the emissions and making it quite hard to detect the black hole.
Sometimes, when the matter is sucked into the black hole, it ricochets off the event horizon and is thrown outward instead of being sucked inside. It releases bright jets of material traveling at an amazingly fast speed.
Although this makes the black hole unseen, the power jets released can be seen from great distances.
The EHT (Event Horizon Telescope)
The Event Horizon Telescope is a planet-sized telescope that gathers data on black holes. This massive telescope captured an image of a black hole present in the M87 galaxy. The picture of the black hole was released in 2019.
This astounding effort took two years of research, even after the picture was taken. It’s because the EHT produced an amount of data so larger that it was impossible to transfer via the internet.