Scientists to see black hole in 2018 for first time ever
WASHINGTON, Dec 30: For the first time since theoretical physicists predicted their existence, scientists think they might actually get to see a black hole in 2018.
Astronomers have detected signs of black holes-observed the giant interstellar gas clouds they attract and the distortion of space they cause. In 2008 scientists hope to actually see the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.
What astronomers hope to see is what is called the "event horizon," the limit beyond which nothing-not even light-can escape a black hole. This should show up as a black disc silhouetted against the glowing gas surrounding the mysterious cosmic object.
The tool that will make this possible is the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT)-which is actually not one, but a number of telescopes. The EHT includes radio telescopes in Arizona, Chile, Mexico, Spain, Hawaii ,and the South Pole.
This one is 26,000 light years away. Swirling around it are the billions of stars of our galaxy. At its core is a singularity millions of times heavier than that of the Sun.
The black hole at the center of our galaxy, known as Sagittarius A, is estimated to be about 30 times the sun's diameter and a staggering 4.3 million times the sun's mass. But the center of the Galaxy is about 26,000 light years from Earth. Focusing on the black hole is comparable to using a telescope in New York City to look at a quarter someone is holding in Los Angeles-and being able to read the date on the coin.
Photographing a black hole is no point-and-click exercise. It may be four million times heavier than our Sun. But it's 26,000 light years away. Perfectly black. And surrounded by stuff.
Supermassive black holes are unpredictable beasts. They can lie dormant for centuries before suddenly flaring up as a quasar, driving powerful jets of superheated subatomic particles into intergalactic space.
It will do this as it devours a nearby star, or pulls in one of the dense clouds of gas and dust swirling around it. These same clouds are blocking Sagittarius A from the view of optical telescopes. But some radio waves can pass through such obstacles unhindered.
To get the best possible picture, radio telescopes thousands of kilometers apart are being pointed together towards Sagittarius A to capture what they can simultaneously. Not just that, but they way they do so - by generating powerful winds that blow far and wide - influences where new stars form. This means the influence exerted by black holes reaches much farther than expected, right into the far reaches of their galaxies.
That supermassive black holes blow powerful winds into the space around them is well known. There may be no air in space, but there is plasma, gas and other matter in the interstellar medium.
Previous studies have concluded that these winds, which are powerful enough to spread throughout entire galaxies, can suppress the formation of new stars across the region. —FOX NEWS