May 24, 2024

In this interactive video you fly around a black hole

“Have you ever asked yourself what it would be like to fly into a black hole?” This question is the beginning of an interactive video published by NASA – and this is what brings us closer to the magic of black holes.

Simulation “a process that is difficult to imagine”

“People often ask about this, and simulating these hard-to-imagine processes helps me connect relativistic mathematics to actual consequences in the real universe,” says Jeremy Schnittman, an astrophysicist at Harvard University. Goddard Space Flight Center NASA, which created the visualizations.

So he simulated two different scenarios: one in which the camera replacing the astronaut narrowly misses the black hole and takes off again, and one in which it crosses the boundary and falls into it.

In a second video, you can also intervene in the event. In this image, NASA sends you around a black hole. You can navigate the space using the indicators that appear.

With a regular laptop, this work would have taken more than a decade

To create great videos like this, special basics are required. Schnittman and his colleagues used the Discover supercomputer to do this NASA Climate Simulation Center. The project generated about ten terabytes of data that the supercomputer worked on, according to one of them NASA announcement It worked for about five days. For comparison: According to NASA, this work would have taken more than a decade using a regular laptop.

The goal was to recreate a supermassive black hole 4.3 million times the mass of our Sun, which corresponds to the black hole at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy.

Video highlights the darkness of black holes

The event horizon of the simulated black hole extends about 25 million kilometers, or about 17 percent of the distance from Earth to the Sun. A flat, rotating cloud of hot, glowing gas surrounds it and serves as a visual reference as it falls.

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This also applies to luminous structures, called photon rings, which consist of light that orbits the black hole once or several times. The backdrop of the starry sky visible from Earth completes the scene. A scene that seems unimaginable to us humans, but thanks to an interactive video it sheds some light on the darkness of black holes.

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