Black Hole Week kicked off Monday (May 1) as scientists and space enthusiasts celebrate our growing understanding of these cosmic titans by sharing images, information and news across the web using the hashtag #BlackHoleWeek.
Not to be outdone, NASA is making sure this week of recognition for black holes is a memorable one. The space agency is providing links to an array of content during its Black Hole Week Website (opens in new tab) New elements are added every day.
The sheer density of resources offered by NASA can leave even die-hard space fans feeling like they’re falling into a black hole, but in a good way!
Related: Black Holes: Everything You Need to Know
Black holes are cosmic phenomena born when massive stars reach the end of their nuclear fuel-burning lives and cannot support themselves against complete gravitational collapse.
The collapsing material is so dense that at its edge, even light cannot travel fast enough to escape its gravitational influence, creating a region of space so distorted and distorted. This light-trapping outer boundary is called the „event horizon”.
Monday: NASA captures the imagination and doesn’t let go
NASA kicked off the week on Monday with some content on a black hole’s event horizon that does anything to cross it, grab attention, and let go.
An animation originally produced by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab begins with the Sun and pulls back to reveal the solar system’s components and the size of supermassive black holes. These supermassive black holes, with masses millions or even billions of times that of the Sun, are believed to sit at the center of the most massive galaxies.
NASA estimates the size of supermassive black holes by calculating a „shadow” twice the size of the black hole’s event horizon, whose diameter can be calculated using the black hole’s mass. The greater the mass, the wider the spherical boundary of its event horizon, and thus the wider its shadow.
The animation travels through the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way to the black hole at the heart of the Messier 87 galaxy, Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), about 4 million times the mass of the Sun. , which has a mass four and a half billion times that of our star.
The animation ends when it reaches the supermassive and massive black hole Donantjintla 618 (Ton 618), which has a mass equal to about 60 billion suns or more than every star in the Large Magellanic Cloud. .
On the first day of black hole week, NASA highlighted the observations (opens in new tab) Lenticular galaxy NGC 3489 as imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. At the heart of this galaxy is a supermassive black hole that drives what astronomers call „active galactic nuclei (AGN)”.
AGNs occur when black holes are surrounded by material in the form of gas and dust, which is gradually fed on. As this happens, the material is spun around the event horizon at speeds approaching that of light and heated to extreme temperatures. This means that the object emits light that outshines almost every star in the galaxy, where AGNs like NGC 3489 sit at the heart of the merger.
Tuesday and Wednesday: NASA spaghettifies the mind
As objects approach the boundaries of black holes, gravity begins to intensify, and the pull felt further from the black hole at the head of the object is much weaker than that felt at its base, closer to the black hole. hole
This leads to extreme wave forces and causes a colorful process known as „spaghettiification,” which stretches the material vertically while compressing it horizontally. For supermassive black holes, where the event horizon is far from the central concentrated mass, this process can begin long after an object crosses the light-trapping boundary.
On the second and third days of Black Hole Week, NASA set out to „spaghettify” the minds of website visitors. Provides a view (opens in new tab) In the supermassive black hole at the center of the Centaurus A galaxy, located 12 million light-years from Earth in the Centaurus constellation.
Seen by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and its Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) satellite, the black hole eats the gas and dust around it and blasts out jets of high-energy particles and other material. The jet seen in the image stretches an incredible 13,000 light years.
On the third day of black hole week, NASA really got into the concept of „spaghettification.” (opens in new tab) By providing a terrifying description of what happens to an object that passes too close to a black hole.
In this A Video showing supercomputer models (opens in new tab) The effects of these intense tidal forces on stars orbiting very close to a supermassive black hole 1 million times the mass of the Sun. The simulations show the disintegration of these stars during so-called „tidal disruption events (TDEs)”.
In some of the TDEs shown, the stars are pulled in entirely, while others retain some of their shape and survive the close encounter. According to the simulation, the fate of stars depends on their internal density.
Also on Wednesday, NASA has released an image from Hubble (opens in new tab) It shows the interacting galaxies of AM 1214–255. Both of these galaxies have bright AGN cores that can be seen glowing white in the image.
Jupiter: Black holes are also bright
On Thursday, NASA shared the Chandra X-ray Observatory Image of Messier 84 (opens in new tab), a galaxy with a supermassive black hole at its center. In these X-ray images, the galaxy glows with gas reaching temperatures of tens of millions of degrees. The jet of material blasted by Messier 84’s black hole creates a giant letter 'H’ that stretches 40,000 light-years, or half the width of the Milky Way!
NASA also shared Post on NGC 547 (opens in new tab), an elliptical galaxy about 250 million light-years away in the Cetus constellation. The galaxy blasts radio waves powered by jets from the black hole at its center.
Friday: The mystery of black holes intensifies
The deep interiors of black holes remain a mystery to astronomers because the light-trapping barriers of event boundaries prevent them from receiving a signal from these regions of space. At their heart, black holes seem to have a singularity—infinitely dense matter squeezed into an infinitely small point—where the laws of physics don’t apply themselves.
At the time of writing, NASA has yet to release its content for Friday, the final day of the black hole week, making it equally mysterious, marked by a „coming soon” message on the website. If the rest of the week is any indication, the space agency must have something spectacular up its sleeve!
The above summary list is only the tip of the iceberg based on the wealth of content provided by NASA during Black Hole Week. For a complete look at the information and resources NASA is providing this Black Hole Week, space enthusiasts can visit the space agency. Space Exploration Website, (opens in new tab) Try not to get sucked in!
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