BY LI YEN, EPOCH TIMES
France Córdova, National Science Foundation director, said in a statement: “Black holes have sparked imaginations for decades. They have exotic properties and are mysterious to us.”
In fact, the mysterious black holes, dubbed as “monsters” by scientists, are not empty space, according to NASA. They are instead, as presented in Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, made up of “a great amount of matter packed into a very small area,” mostly formed from “the remnants of a large star that dies in a supernova explosion.”
Einstein predicted the existence of massive and dense black holes in the universe, where the gravitational fields are so strong that even light can’t escape.
The German-born American physicist, widely regarded as a genius today, made known this theory to the world more than a century ago on Nov. 25, 1915, at the Prussian Academy of Sciences.
“About a hundred years ago, Albert Einstein gave us a new description of the force of gravity, in which gravity exerts its influence through warps and curves in the fabric of space and time,” Brian Greene, a physicist at Columbia University, said in a video for the World Science.
After Einstein’s death, the scientific community discovered that black holes do exist, and there are countless such black holes spreading throughout the universe.
On April 10, the genius’s century-old theory of general relativity was further reaffirmed—the existence of the gravitational and light-sucking cosmic objects was reported to be true.
“Today, general relativity has passed another crucial test, this one spanning from horizons to the stars,” Avery Broderick, Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) team member of the University of Waterloo and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada, said during a press conference in Washington, D.C.
“You can see the ring Einstein’s relativity predicts,” Vincent Fish, a research scientist at MIT’s Haystack Observatory in Westford, and also one of the 200 scientists who was involved in the project, told the Boston Herald. “You know exactly how big that ring should be. This was the first opportunity to test that hypothesis.”
Dimitrios Psaltis, Professor of Astronomy and Physics at the University of Arizona, and EHT project scientist, said in a press release: “The Event Horizon Telescope allows us for the very first time to test the predictions of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity around supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies. The predicted size and shape of the shadow theory match our observations remarkably well, increasing our confidence in this century-old theory.”
“If immersed in a bright region, like a disc of glowing gas, we expect a black hole to create a dark region similar to a shadow—something predicted by Einstein’s general relativity that we’ve never seen before,” Heino Falcke of Radboud University, the Netherlands, chair of the EHT Science Council, said.
Some Refute Einstein’s Theory
Despite the theory that shot Einstein to fame, some scientists have said the theory doesn’t explain everything, and requires revision.
Speaking about gravity, Austrian physicist Andrea Ghez, who led a 20-year-long black hole experiment, told Express News: “You can hark back to the days of Newton—who had the previous best description of gravity—and at some point we realized we had to move beyond Newton, to get a more complete vision.”
Ghez added: “As we explore these more and more extreme conditions we see that there is something missing.
“the closer you get to the heart of the galaxy, the shorter the time scales become.”
In terms of light, central to Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity is that the speed of light is constant everywhere.
One counter theory by researchers suggests that the speed of light is varied, and that light traveled faster in the wake of the Big Bang—a significant blow to Einstein’s theory.
“The idea that the speed of light could be variable was radical when first proposed, but with a numerical prediction, it becomes something physicists can actually test. If true, it would mean that the laws of nature were not always the same as they are today,” cosmologist and theoretical physicist João Magueijo told news.com.au.
Location of the Historic Finding
The black hole that was discovered resides at the heart of a huge galaxy known as Messier 87 or M87, near the Virgo galaxy cluster, 55 million light years from Earth.
The first snapshot of the black hole was captured by scientists using a global network of eight linked telescopes that were stationed over five continents in April 2017 for a week-long observation of black holes, according to Event Horizon Telescope.
“This is an extraordinary scientific feat accomplished by a team of more than 200 researchers,” said Sheperd Doeleman, director of the EHT Collaboration.
The enormous black hole captured in the image is predicted to have a mass 6.5 billion times bigger than our sun. Researchers believe it may be the biggest black hole that can be viewed from Earth.
“M87’s huge black hole mass makes it really a monster, even by supermassive black hole standards,” Sera Markoff, an astrophysicist at the University of Amsterdam, told The Verge. “You’re basically looking at a supermassive black hole that’s almost the size of our entire Solar System.”