Photo credit: Dan Wilkins (CC BY-NC-ND)
Astrophysicists have detected light echoing behind a black hole in deep space for the very first time. Stanford University astrophysicist Dan Wilkins found that flares of X-rays were spotted bursting from a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy 800m light years away, but the telescopes were also picking up unexpected “luminous echoes,” which are smaller flashes and of different colors than the bright flares. Read more for another picture and additional information.
Photo credit: European Space Agency (CC BY-NC-ND)
These luminous echoes observed were consistent with X-rays reflected from behind the black hole, a bizarre place for light to come from. This discovery confirms Albert Einstein’s theory on general relativity, as the gravitational pull from black holes basically bends light rays around themselves, giving researchers their first look of what lies behind.
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Any light that goes into that black hole doesn’t come out, so we shouldn’t be able to see anything that’s behind the black hole. The reason we can see that is because that black hole is warping space, bending light and twisting magnetic fields around itself,” said Dan Wilkins, a research scientist at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.