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Quest to See a Black Hole's Shadow


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At the core of the Milky Way is a supermassive black hole that sucks in light, rendering it virtually invisible. But astronomers say they will be able to see the black hole's overall shadow within a few years.

"The Holy Grail of black hole astronomy is within our grasp," says Avery Broderick of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "We could see the shadow that the black hole casts on surrounding material, and determine the size and spin of the black hole itself."

Nothing can escape the intense gravitational field of a black hole, not even light. And since they can't emit light, or any other form of matter, there's no visible evidence of their existence. But as matter gets pulled in, it heats up and radiates energy in "hot spots."

Some of this radiation escapes and can be detected.


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This article contains most, if not all, the wrong ideas about how black holes work!  It drives me nuts!  WHY do they insist on getting it wrong ALL the time?

Black holes do NOT "suck in light" or anything else, any more than Earth does.

It is self contradictory, almost in the same sentence.  It says, "Nothing can escape", which is false, then it says "Some of this radiation escapes".  Which is it?

It says the technology to view the hot spots won't exist for a few years, then it says there's already one in place-the submillimeter array across the "continent", but the submillimeter array is being assembled across the GLOBE.  I've seen part of the SMA on Mauna Kea, and even this section is operational enough to detect the energies of which the article speaks.

Submillimeter wavelength is between microwave frequencies and infrared light, not particularly "short".  Astronomers refer to short wavelengths as ultraviolet or higher.

And that's just the beginning.

IMHO, Space.com should be ignored.

:x :x

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Astroman i have forwarded your application for a lifetime's Membership to Space.com :) :)...

Seriously though that's one hell of a [removed word] up by Space.com and not for the first time either it seems there too interested in trying to have Shock news headlines than what goes into there news something of which is most disconcerting esp if you don't know any better.

Shame on you Space.com

James :)

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Space.com once began interviewing me at the Grand Canyon Star Party, about 5 years ago. They wanted to know basic stuff about me and my equipment. How I got started, how much I spent, etc. When the public came up to see through the scope, I stopped talking to them and helped the "observers", many of whom had never seen through a scope before, and for whom the event is staged. Space.com soon got bored with this, and left me to talk to someone else I know that is somewhat noted for his ego, and was willing to ignore the public and talk to them. His quotes showed up in an article some time later, while my efforts were "lost" somewhere. After that added to the constant misrepresentation of science, they've been a target of mine. No. it's not because I wanted to be in the article, I've been in those before. It was because the wanted me to ignore the entire reason I was there, and I wouldn't wet myself to be published, so to speak.

But I'm ranting. I'll just go sit in the corner now and fume...

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Sorry, I shall be more careful when posting links to Space.com and stick to details that I actually understand!  Is there any truth in what they say; I mean, are they or are they not looking for a black holes shadow? 

Steve :)

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Steve:  I wouldn't call it a "shadow", but yes, they are looking for other ways of detecting black hole candidates.  What they're trying to describe is what happens to material that encounters the event horizon.  Matter that falls there is generally never seen again, but its last gasp is usually a puff of x-rays.  It's assumed that matter falls in from all directions, so if they can measure the x-rays from in front and the sides, there should be a region where x-rays are missing, being blocked by the black hole itself.  I suspect they think this will be visible in wavelengths other than short x-rays, because with a global diameter submillimeter interferometer, the resolution may be high enough to actually discern the difference between frontal, side and rear x-rays.  Does that make sense?  Just for instance, it's easier to see smaller objects in the radio band than in optical or higher frequencies because the radio dishes are much easier to build huge than glass mirrors or x-ray glancing-angle mirrors.

Also, If you find something, pretty much anywhere, that you'd like explained at least more accurately, don't hesitate to post it! If I can explain it better, I'll do it. If not, I'll ask someone who can and get back to you.

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