As Einstein predicted in his theory of relativity, behind supermassive black holes there is light. This has been verified for the first time by astronomers at Stanford University, after observing flashes of light behind the supermassive black hole located in the center of a galaxy, 800 million light years away from Earth.
At first they thought that what they observed was X-rays, something that would not have surprised the specialists, but later they were able to verify the presence of additional light flashes. The light that enters the black hole does not come out, so we should not be able to see anything behind it.
However, the theory indicates that we could see light because that black hole is warping space, bending light and twisting magnetic fields around itself. It is precisely this phenomenon that has been verified, being the first direct observation of light behind a black hole, thus verifying what Einstein predicted.
Flares and magnetic fields
The gravitational intensity of black holes means that not even light can escape from them once it is absorbed. If the “diet” of black holes includes matter, it is subjected to forces so powerful that it is even ripped apart at the atomic scale.
Precisely, the so-called accretion disk that surrounds most black holes is composed of a plasma with a magnetic charge created from the deformation carried out by these colossal and enigmatic structures of the matter that they devour.
All these interactions produce the magnetic fields of black holes, which when they converge generate “flares” and bright emanations, which can be compared in some way to those that occur in the solar corona. Those bright X-ray flares were the ones observed by American researchers.
Deformation of light
For Einstein, the intense gravity of black holes could bend light back on itself, making it possible to see light emanations from behind black holes. According to a press release, this is what specialists have confirmed after numerous observations of the supermassive black hole I Zwicky 1.
As indicated in the conclusions of the study, published recently in the journal Nature, in the observed case the light of the X-ray flares reverberated in the accretion disk of the black hole, bending around it and traveling back towards the telescopes of researchers.
Direct observation of these light echoes means seeing Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity in action, according to specialists. The tracking was done with ESA’s XMM-Newton telescope and NASA’s NuSTAR telescope.
Now scientists hope to have even more precise telescopes to sharpen their understanding of these phenomena and other behaviors linked to mysterious black holes. Much of the enigmas of the universe are directly linked to these incredible structures, which can shed light on the nature of the cosmos from the depths of darkness.
Light bending and X-ray echoes from behind a supermassive black hole. D. R. Wilkins, L. C. Gallo, E. Costantini, W. N. Brandt and R. D. Blandford. Nature (2021) .DOI: http: //dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03667-0