These Wisps Around Black Holes Could Reveal How the Cosmic Beasts Eat.
DENVER — You've seen the first close-up of a black hole. Now, get ready to see the faint wisps of matter surrounding the object.
The international team responsible for the first-ever image of a black hole's shadow already has plans to take a better, more detailed image. And that image could reveal new details about the matter and magnetic fields wrapped around the supermassive, distant object at the center of galaxy Messier 87 (M87). More-detailed images, along with movies of the black hole that are already in the works, could help explain how black holes gobble up matter from the rings of hot gas swirling around them (called accretion disks) and how the objects produce bright jets of superfast matter on the scale of galaxies. That's according to researchers from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) team who spoke to a crowd of physicists here at the American Physical Society's April meeting.
To image the M87 black hole in more detail, the researchers need to alter their approach, said Shep Doeleman, the Harvard University astronomer who lead the EHT team. Specifically, the scientists need to increase the frequency of the radio waves they're studying and add new radio telescopes to the EHT network. Both projects are already underway, he said, and should sharpen the already remarkably sharp image. (The existing image really is remarkably sharp when you consider that the supermassive object in question is so far away that, as viewed from Earth, it looks no bigger than an orange on the surface of the moon.) -In particular, the team hopes to image curling wisps of duller matter that simulations suggest should surround that bright ring already pictured, said Avery Broderick, an astrophysicist at the University of Waterloo in Canada who works on interpreting data from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). The shapes of those wisps should tell physicists whether a long-held theory of how matter gets knocked from a black hole's accretion disk into its throat is correct.
Read more in comment - 8 minutes ago