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Landmark: First photo of a black hole (and Einstein was right)

A brief break in transmission now for the first photograph of a black hole, looking pretty much exactly as anyone would expect it to.  The photons caught in this image traveled for hundreds of years at the speed of light. Lots of “hundreds” –  burning through space for some 55 million years.

The numbers melt neurons: The supermassive black hole called M87 is 6.5 billion times bigger than our Sun. It’s bigger than the orbit of Neptune (which is circling 30 times further out from the Sun than we are). This star is 10 billion kilometers across.

Geoffrey Crew, a research scientist at Haystack Observatory commented that “With the M87 black hole being so massive, an orbiting planet would go around it within a week and be traveling at close to the speed of light.”

Black Hole

The black heart of Messier 87, or M87, a galaxy within the Virgo galaxy cluster, 55 million light years from Earth.

It takes a telescope roughly as big as The Earth to catch an image 20 micro-arcseconds across. Eight radio telescopes were combined across four continents and lined up on a few special days when they all had clear weather together. Each telescope took a petabyte of data. Some one million gigabytes. It was so much data that it was quicker to fly the discs around the world in planes rather than try to upload it.

These photons started their journey during the Eocene on Earth, so Antarctica was covered in subtropical rainforest and the biggest mammals were about the size of pet cats.

From MIT News

Working together as a “virtual telescope,” observatories around the world produce first direct images of a black hole

All four images show a central dark region surrounded by a ring of light that appears lopsided — brighter on one side than the other.

Albert Einstein, in his theory of general relativity, predicted the existence of black holes, in the form of infinitely dense, compact regions in space, where gravity is so extreme that nothing, not even light, can escape from within. By definition, black holes are invisible. But if a black hole is surrounded by light-emitting material such as plasma, Einstein’s equations predict that some of this material should create a “shadow,” or an outline of the black hole and its boundary, also known as its event horizon.

Based on the new images of M87, the scientists believe they are seeing a black hole’s shadow for the first time, in the form of the dark region at the center of each image.

Relativity predicts that the immense gravitational field will cause light to bend around the black hole, forming a bright ring around its silhouette, and will also cause the surrounding material to orbit around the object at close to light speed. The bright, lopsided ring in the new images offers visual confirmation of these effects: The material headed toward our vantage point as it rotates around appears brighter than the other side.

“People tend to view the sky as something static, that things don’t change in the heavens, or if they do, it’s on timescales that are longer than a human lifetime,” says Vincent Fish, a research scientist at Haystack Observatory. “But what we find for M87 is, at the very fine detail we have, objects change on the timescale of days. In the future, we can perhaps produce movies of these sources. Today we’re seeing the starting frames.”

“These remarkable new images of the M87 black hole prove that Einstein was right yet again,” says Maria Zuber, MIT’s vice president for research and the E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.

“Nature was kind”

The images were taken by the Event Horizon Telescope, or EHT, a planet-scale array comprising eight radio telescopes, each in a remote, high-altitude environment, including the mountaintops of Hawaii, Spain’s Sierra Nevada, the Chilean desert, and the Antarctic ice sheet.

On any given day, each telescope operates independently, observing astrophysical objects that emit faint radio waves. However, a black hole is infinitely smaller and darker than any other radio source in the sky. To see it clearly, astronomers need to use very short wavelengths — in this case, 1.3 millimeters — that can cut through the clouds of material between a black hole and the Earth.

Making a picture of a black hole also requires a magnification, or “angular resolution,” equivalent to reading a text on a phone in New York from a sidewalk café in Paris. A telescope’s angular resolution increases with the size of its receiving dish. However, even the largest radio telescopes on Earth are nowhere near big enough to see a black hole.

But when multiple radio telescopes, separated by very large distances, are synchronized and focused on a single source in the sky, they can operate as one very large radio dish, through a technique known as very long baseline interferometry, or VLBI. Their combined angular resolution as a result can be vastly improved.

For EHT, the eight participating telescopes summed up to a virtual radio dish as big as the Earth, with the ability to resolve an object down to 20 micro-arcseconds — about 3 million times sharper than 20/20 vision. By a happy coincidence, that’s about the precision required to view a black hole, according to Einstein’s equations.

“Nature was kind to us, and gave us something just big enough to see by using state-of-the-art equipment and techniques,” says Crew, co-leader of the EHT correlation working group and the ALMA Observatory VLBI team.

“Gobs of data”

On April 5, 2017, the EHT began observing M87. After consulting numerous weather forecasts, astronomers identified four nights that would produce clear conditions for all eight observatories — a rare opportunity, during which they could work as one collective dish to observe the black hole.

In radio astronomy, telescopes detect radio waves, at frequencies that register incoming photons as a wave, with an amplitude and phase that’s measured as a voltage. As they observed M87, every telescope took in streams of data in the form of voltages, represented as digital numbers.

“We’re recording gobs of data — petabytes of data for each station,” Crew says.

In total, each telescope took in about one petabyte of data, equal to 1 million gigabytes. Each station recorded this enormous influx that onto several Mark6 units — ultrafast data recorders that were originally developed at Haystack Observatory.

After the observing run ended, researchers at each station packed up the stack of hard drives and flew them via FedEx to Haystack Observatory, in Massachusetts, and Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, in Germany. (Air transport was much faster than transmitting the data electronically.) At both locations, the data were played back into a highly specialized supercomputer called a correlator, which processed the data two streams at a time.

As each telescope occupies a different location on the EHT’s virtual radio dish, it has a slightly different view of the object of interest — in this case, M87. The data received by two separate telescopes may encode a similar signal of the black hole but also contain noise that’s specific to the respective telescopes.

The correlator lines up data from every possible pair of the EHT’s eight telescopes. From these comparisons, it mathematically weeds out the noise and picks out the black hole’s signal. High-precision atomic clocks installed at every telescope time-stamp incoming data, enabling analysts to match up data streams after the fact.

“Precisely lining up the data streams and accounting for all kinds of subtle perturbations to the timing is one of the things that Haystack specializes in,” says Colin Lonsdale, Haystack director and vice chair of the EHT directing board.

Teams at both Haystack and Max Planck then began the painstaking process of “correlating” the data, identifying a range of problems at the different telescopes, fixing them, and rerunning the correlation, until the data could be rigorously verified. Only then were the data released to four separate teams around the world, each tasked with generating an image from the data using independent techniques.

“It was the second week of June, and I remember I didn’t sleep the night before the data was released, to be sure I was prepared,” says Kazunori Akiyama, co-leader of the EHT imaging group and a postdoc working at Haystack.

All four imaging teams previously tested their algorithms on other astrophysical objects, making sure that their techniques would produce an accurate visual representation of the radio data. When the files were released, Akiyama and his colleagues immediately ran the data through their respective algorithms. Importantly, each team did so independently of the others, to avoid any group bias in the results.

“The first image our group produced was slightly messy, but we saw this ring-like emission, and I was so excited at that moment,” Akiyama remembers. “But simultaneously I was worried that maybe I was the only person getting that black hole image.”

His concern was short-lived. Soon afterward all four teams met at the Black Hole Initiative at Harvard University to compare images, and found, with some relief, and much cheering and applause, that they all produced the same, lopsided, ring-like structure — the first direct images of a black hole.

“There have been ways to find signatures of black holes in astronomy, but this is the first time anyone’s ever taken a picture of one,” Crew says. “This is a watershed moment.”

“A new era”

The idea for the EHT was conceived in the early 2000s by Sheperd Doeleman PhD ’95, who was leading a pioneering VLBI program at Haystack Observatory and now directs the EHT project as an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. At the time, Haystack engineers were developing the digital back-ends, recorders, and correlator that could process the enormous datastreams that an array of disparate telescopes would receive.

“The concept of imaging a black hole has been around for decades,” Lonsdale says. “But it was really the development of modern digital systems that got people thinking about radio astronomy as a way of actually doing it. More telescopes on mountaintops were being built, and the realization gradually came along that, hey, [imaging a black hole] isn’t absolutely crazy.”

In 2007, Doeleman’s team put the EHT concept to the test, installing Haystack’s recorders on three widely scattered radio telescopes and aiming them together at Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the center of our own galaxy.

“We didn’t have enough dishes to make an image,” recalls Fish, co-leader of the EHT science operations working group. “But we could see there was something there that’s about the right size.”

Today, the EHT has grown to an array of 11 observatories: ALMA, APEX, the Greenland Telescope, the IRAM 30-meter Telescope, the IRAM NOEMA Observatory, the Kitt Peak Telescope, the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, the Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano, the Submillimeter Array, the Submillimeter Telescope, and the South Pole Telescope. (Read further in the related press release.)

Coordinating observations and analysis has involved over 200 scientists from around the world who make up the EHT collaboration, with 13 main institutions, including Haystack Observatory. Key funding was provided by the National Science Foundation, the European Research Council, and funding agencies in East Asia, including the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. The telescopes contributing to this result were ALMA, APEX, the IRAM 30-meter telescope, the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope, the Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano, the Submillimeter Array, the Submillimeter Telescope, and the South Pole Telescope.

More observatories are scheduled to join the EHT array, to sharpen the image of M87 as well as attempt to see through the dense material that lies between Earth and the center of our own galaxy, to the heart of Sagittarius A*.

“We’ve demonstrated that the EHT is the observatory to see a black hole on an event horizon scale,” Akiyama says. “This is the dawn of a new era of black hole astrophysics.”

The Haystack EHT team includes John Barrett, Roger Cappallo, Joseph Crowley, Mark Derome, Kevin Dudevoir, Michael Hecht, Lynn Matthews, Kotaro Moriyama, Michael Poirier, Alan Rogers, Chester Ruszczyk, Jason SooHoo, Don Sousa, Michael Titus, and Alan Whitney. Additional contributors were MIT alumni Daniel Palumbo, Katie Bouman, Lindy Blackburn, and Bill Freeman, a professor in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

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Landmark: First photo of a black hole (and Einstein was right) , 8.8 out of 10 based on 69 ratings

87 comments to Landmark: First photo of a black hole (and Einstein was right)

  • #

    Cool. 55 millions light years is quite a few galaxies away from us. Is Sagittarius A-star next?

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    • #
      James Murphy

      I believe it was their other target.

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      • #
        OriginalSteve

        Oh look….. its Australia during the reign of the Greens….

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        • #
          James Murphy

          As none of the Greens seem capable of saying anything positive, or constructive about anything resembling human achievement, I am expecting at least one to say that the money spent on this project should have been spent on, well, anyone but white Australians, really.

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          • #
            OriginalSteve

            Maybe white old “priveleged” males?

            I had a relative turn up and visit my neices. She is, sad to say, a green leftie, and ranted on about white privelege ( she is white ), while my neices sat there gob smacked looking at each other and going …”Er…we are white…so are you…”

            She spent a fair bt of time working in unis, and the peak labor organizing organization.

            This relative too is super intelligent, but just regurgitates these nonsense phrases you hear them spout. Most of it is rolled gold nonsense that can be shot down with little effort……

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            • #
              sophocles

              … intelligent but lazy: it’s easy to slop around in the propaganda if doing research for oneself doesn’t appeal.

              Just keep on shooting it down!

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    • #
      Greg in NZ

      Einstein was right? Life’s just a big black hole?

      “Back in 1963, before advanced computers existed, with pen and paper Professor Kerr achieved what had eluded others for nearly half a century, solving some of the most difficult equations of physics by hand. He found the exact solution of Albert Einstein’s equations that describe rotating black holes… Professor Kerr’s discovery triggered a revolution in the field of astrophysics, and is now known as the ‘Kerr Vacuum’.”

      http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/SC1904/S00025/professor-roy-kerrs-black-hole-theory-proven-right.htm

      The dude that made all this mathematical whizz-bang ‘hole black’ stuff possible was – cough! – a New Zealander from the little South Island town of Kurow on the banks of the Waitaki River, same town as where my ancestors scratched a living from the soil having stepped off a boat from Ireland in 18-something-or-other. Small place, huh? I’m sure we’re related… Disclaimer: I was useless at algebra / new maths but learned young how to count my change backwards from the shop.

      As Professor Roy himself said: “I was surprised that the best image was not Sagittarius A* but was a super massive black hole 2,000 times further away, and 2,000 times larger” also known as M87 (sounds like a highway at the end of the universe). As an aside, another NZ paper/website ‘of renown’ today had an image of a galaxy accompanying its article on the black hole discovery…

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      • #

        Professor Kerr also said, Greg, that whilst he was wearing pencils out developing his calculations, he was puffing his way through 55 cigarettes a day! He must’ve knocked off smoking as he’s still with us.

        I used to pass through Kurow on my way to Treblinka boarding school.

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  • #
    BigFire

    And I only lookup on what Photon Sphere is in relationship to Event Horizon a couple of weeks ago. Now we have an actual picture? Great.

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  • #
    Tim Spence

    So this is what renewables morph into?

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    • #
      Kinky Keith

      A fascinating glimpse into the world of real science where obstacles are overcome and removed in order to understand and see reality. The culmination of just over 100 years of the science of atomic physics and its extension to exploring the universe.

      An achievement that humanity can be proud of.

      And then there’s Man Made Global Warming via CO2 and it’s little brother, Climate Change™.

      Humanity is an enigma when it can be Magnificent and Totally Ugly at the same time.

      KK

      Such a contrast with the

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  • #
    James Murphy

    It is a landmark event indeed. It’s things like this that show what brilliant things humans can achieve if they make an effort to look forwards (and upwards) instead of trying to be offended by irrelevancies and acting like victims.

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  • #
    James Murphy

    This is a pretty interesting, if a bit long-winded (just over 1 hour) discussion about the EHT by Dr Geoffrey Bower, one of the key people involved with this project.
    https://youtu.be/SrTipA9WxAM

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  • #
    Travis T. Jones

    We’ve come along way in a short time …

    Earliest known Mariner’s Astrolabe research published today to go in Guinness Book of Records – March 18, 2019,

    Guinness World Records have independently certified an astrolabe excavated from the wreck site of a Portuguese Armada Ship that was part of Vasco da Gama’s second voyage to India in 1502-1503 as the oldest in the world, and have separately certified a ship’s bell (dated 1498) recovered from the same wreck site also as the oldest in the world.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-03-earliest-mariner-astrolabe-published-today.html?platform=hootsuite

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  • #
    PeterS

    White holes too are predicted as part of a solution to the Einstein field equations. So let’s see if they can find them as well, if they exist. Some say that’s what quasars are but that appears to be incorrect. Lots of discussions on those matters on various astrophysical sites. I find them fascinating. Certainly far more interesting than discussing politics.

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  • #
    Roy Hogue

    Surprise,surprise…a black hole is, uh…well…black. I’m underwhelmed.

    What’s impressive to me is that they can stitch together the data from radio telescopes around the globe and make a coherent image out of it. It’s got to be something akin to putting together just the impulses captured by the receiving antenna in an MRI machine that come from the body part you want to look at and ignore everything else.

    And one more aspect of Einstein’s theories is shown to be right on the money. :-)

    And cooperation among diverse groups of homosapiens (it means wise men) is something we need to see more of too.

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    • #
      Geoff Sherrington

      Fat Lady singing time -
      Has this result been replicated with another start from scratch exercise?
      Should it replicate beautifully, then it looks like one of those achievents that deserves a place on the serious time line of the history of science. Congrats,. Geoff

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      • #
        Roy Hogue

        It occurs to me to ask whether fat ladies are a protected class or not.

        You might get yourself arrested for what you said,

        Fat Lady singing time- ;-)

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        • #
          Roy Hogue

          Or we could get our own black hole, a smaller on, of course and then we’d have a place to toss all the political nonsense.

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    • #
      sophocles

      Roy @ #6 said:

      What’s impressive to me is that they can stitch together the data from radio telescopes around the globe and make a coherent image out of it. I

      … which is why massively parallel computer systems are never big enough :-)
      The amount of data a single radio telescope gathers in a night is literally astronomical. With eight to handle, well, it’s a heap of data. The first filter is digitisation: If a bit is set, that part of the sky represented by that bit has something, if it’s not set, there’s nothing there. Very simple! That then goes through even more number crunching (digital filtering) to get a meaningful result, hence the MPC or Massively Parallel Computer. Noise has to be removed — dish shake from ground shake, dish rotational noise, and drive motor “rumble” and local EM noise (cell phone transmissions, tv, radio telephones etc). Radio-quiet places are important.

      What impressed me was the four processing teams all getting the same images! It’s so easy to get/make a mess. Wow! Atomic clocks make temporal synchronisation easy. But the structures are all different.

      I spent some time at the Auckland Radio Telescope updating and converting 32-bit patches to enable the 64-bit 2.6.26 linux kernel to cope with allocation/deallocation, or management, of “huge” blocks of memory (real and virtual) in 2007-2008 … that was fun. Here’s a swap partition of 1 terrabyte. … let’s use it!.

      The Auckland observatory has two dishes, the original 12.5m dish installed in 2008 (just before I moved on) and the really exciting buzz after that success was the offer from Telecom to gift its 30M satellite dish to the observatory — which it did! It wasn’t needed any more, not after all telephone, data and Internet traffic was polluting the Southern Cross fibre-optic Cable. Kudos to Telecom! Well, by gifting it, they didn’t have to pay to pull it down, did they? What a saving! ( See here for details).

      Between Aus and NZ, we have an LBA (Long Baseline Array) of remarkable resolution. It starts in Perth (or near Perth? Hi Jo! <waves>) and ends in Warkworth, Auckland.

      There was talk about a Square Kilometer Array back then but nothing much seemed to be happening. The politicians kept ducking the flying dollar signs — they’re good at that. I see the politix of the SKA (Square Kilometre Array) has gotten denser but it’s all still interfering. It was coin tossing between Auz+NZ and Namibia back then (2008).

      Now, in 2019, it’s still in Politix, with design, organisation and directors but no SKA yet … of course. ;-)
      But hey! It’s got an SKA web site! (Must be Progress(?)) And an SKA Treaty! (Oh scat! Internationalised BS …) And an SKA Timetable (YAO — Yet Another One!)
      Ain’t Politix Wonderful?
      Delay! Delay! Endless Delay! Yes, they say construction starts <–Note operative word! in 2021. Riiiiiight. I'll believe it if I see it.

      If it had been left to Aus/NZ, and our pollies hadn’t been so busy ducking < quack quack quack > it might have been running by now … out in the Australian desert. (You know: all that empty land out there! White `toadstools,’ anybody? Lots of `white toadstools’?)

      I’m amused at the data transfer method as arrays of hard drives. As I moved on to other things, in 2008, the TransTasman observatories were talking about the possibility of a direct dedicated transtasman data cable between Auckland and Parkes observatory. I did a back-of-the-envelope sum on data transmission time (approx 2 wks), costs of consumer terabyte hard drives (NZD180,000 per petabyte) and freight across the Tasman (pocket change). The disks turned out to be less than a hundredth the cost of a cable, and there were no cable laying ships available then — they were all busy for at least another ten years — so air cargo taking 2 days to cross the Tasman was one seventh of the data transmission time. As you can see: big wins in speed and cost!

      I left them with “never underestimate the bandwidth of a box of harddrives on an aircraft” which was a paraphrase of Andy Tanenbaum’s “never underestimate the bandwidth of a car full tapes going down the highway” (or something like it), to think on. It seems others have done the sums too and come to the same conclusions. :-)

      I missed the Haystack Observatory’s engineering. Darn. I do remember we were having … frustrations with the data recording — hence my work.
      Big data can easily = big headache.

      By “big” harddrives, I mean large data capacity, not physical size …

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      • #
        Roy Hogue

        Sophocles,

        Parallel processing is very useful. One of my last assignments before retiring required a moving surface plot, X = frequency, Y = intensity, Z = time.

        I did it first the classical way, not taking advantage of the graphic cards parallel processing and came up with a program that could handle data only so fast and at it’s limit the program driving it would simply overrun it and data would be dropped on the floor.

        Then I redid it using the graphic processor’s capabilities. You have to learn a whole new paradigm for organizing the job. But once I had that firmly in in my head I had the same identical moving surface plot able to handle nearly 5 times the data in the same time without moving up to a higher priced graphic card. It’s Faster than they will ever need no matter how much improvement in the hardware they make.

        Last I had any contact with anyone it looks like it was all for nothing because the hardware never came together. But my piece of it worked !!!

        Need huge matrices multiplied? Only way to do it. Highly or massively parallel processing (whatever you want to call it) is a fast growing specialty within computer science. Coordinate transformations go so fast I thought I should see smoke coming out the exhaust fan.

        Ain’t Politix Wonderful?

        No. Never good to be tied up with people who get paid to tell the rest of us what to do.

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      • #
        NuThink

        Andy Tanenbaum’s “never underestimate the bandwidth of a car full tapes going down the highway” (or something like it).

        I read his book in 2002 and was impressed by his description. If I recall correctly it was “never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway”. It was the hurtling that really got to me.

        hurtle
        /ˈhəːt(ə)l/

        move or cause to move at high speed, typically in an uncontrolled manner.

        With respect to the SKA it looks like the headquarters at Jodrell bank will be opening in July 2019.
        https://www.skatelescope.org/skahq/

        https://www.countrylife.co.za/news/16-facts-ska-project
        (she seems to get the supercomputer facts a bit wrong though, at only 1 018 [sic] ops per second.)

        The project is ongoing, and is funded by

        SKA members
        Organisations from 12 countries are members of the SKA Organisation – Australia, Canada, China, France, India, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. This global organisation is managed by the not-for-profit SKA Organisation, who have their headquarters at the Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester in the United Kingdom. The participating countries page details more on the countries involved in the SKA.

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  • #
    joseph

    I’m wondering what the electric universe people will have to say about this.

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    • #
      Robdel

      Who are these electric universe people? I just don’t understand…

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      • #
        Rosco

        “Who are these electric universe people? I just don’t understand…”

        The electric universe hypothesis is that electromagnetic energy explains everything including gravity.

        Given we appear to have established the “certainty” of the relevance of electromagnetism they claim some of the interpretations of science playdown the significance.

        It is interesting.

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        • #
          el gordo

          This has been doing the rounds over the past few weeks.

          ‘A new study by Queen’s University Belfast and Aberystwyth University indicates that the Sun’s magnetic field is 10 times more powerful than previously thought.’

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        • #

          A more likely path would be to explain EM as a function of space-time curvature. For example, as GR uniformly curves space and time with respect to the speed of light as it explains gravity, it seems plausible to curve the relationship between space and time such that their relative phase relationship can explain charge.

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          • #
            Roy Hogue

            …space-time curvature.

            The rest of you are light-years ahead of me in understanding all this but I wish someone could give me a visualization of space-time curvature that doesn’t require explaining with the typical vortex looking diagrams I’ve seen used to explain it. The diagrams and what I think is actually happening don’t work together. H E L P !

            Space, so I’m told is nothing — ain’t nuthin there. How then can space have any properties? Time is not a tangible thing either that you can hold in your hand. According to Einstein time can appear to pass at different rates and space can appear to be longer or shorter, depending on the relative motion of 2 observers. But what is there in that that you can describe as curved? Nonlinear, maybe??? But curved escapes me.

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            • #
              tom0mason

              Roy Hogue,

              “According to Einstein time can appear to pass at different rates and space can appear to be longer or shorter, depending on the relative motion of 2 observers.”

              However at all times the speed of light stays a constant.

              And I can only think that it can only happen if the variations in passage of time are accommodated by the variations in space being in an inverse relationship (in absolute terms not relative terms — observing from outside of our own space-time region to where space and time are not!)

              That is from this region where space and time are not, …
              [delta(passing of time)] x [delta(change in space)] = a constant. Whatever that could mean!

              Though I feel sure someone, somewhere, at sometime will show me why I’m wrong about this.

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              • #
                Roy Hogue

                Tom,

                If lightning strikes and delivers a revelation to me I’ll let you know if you’ll do the same for me if you get the revelation. But I think we should avoid holding our breath while we wait to be thus informed.

                It’s hard to see how a photon heading straight out from your neighborhood black hole from a position just inside the event horizon and going diligently at velocity C never gets outside the event horizon when a neighboring photon just outside the horizon also diligently going at velocity C can continue to move away from the horizon and escape — C being constant as measured by both photons. At least that’s what the theory says to me.

                This seems to require that the event horizon is defined differently depending on which side of it you’re on. If you’re a photon inside the horizon it’s moving steadily away from you, otherwise you would reach it and escape. But if you’re outside it’s a static location behind you that you can move away from and escape. I think this requires assuming that a photon can tell it’s moving and how fast but…?

                And if I could unravel all this my name would be up on the wall at the Physics Hall of Fame alongside Einstein’s.

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              • #
                Roy Hogue

                And now my head is spinning and I better stop.

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        • #
          Robdel

          Em energy does not explain gravity. Gravity is due to a tensor force, em is due to a vector force.

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          • #

            Maxwell’s equations have a tensor form which I consider to be their most elegant representation. I perceive gravity as the Universe pushing back against being curved, which is more or less what the Stress Energy tensor is quantifying. BTW, a vector is just a 2-dimensional tensor.

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            • #
              Robdel

              A vector in 4D, like the vector potential for electromagnetism, is a one index tensor with 4 components. The gravitational field is a two index symmetric tensor with ten components. Look up the physics books.

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              • #

                Robdel,

                By your arguments, Newton’s gravity is represented by vectors, while Einstein’s is represented by tensors and yet they quantify the same thing in the far field. Tensors are just a way to frame a problem in a more general manner. Also, as I said before, the most elegant form of Maxwell’s equations is their tensor form, thus EM is just as well quantified by tensors as GR. In fact, just about everything about physics can quantified using tensor math.

                My point was that your assertion that EM can’t describe gravity because of the difference between a vector and a tensor is incorrect regardless of the nature of any connection, or not, between the two. More to the point, there clearly is a connection, it’s just not well understood. One piece of evidence that a connection must exist is the fact that both the speed of light and the gravitational constant shows up Einstein’s GR equation. The implication being that gravity, just like EM, propagates at the speed of light and which has been confirmed by LIGO.

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        • #
          Robert Christopher

          “The electric universe hypothesis is that electromagnetic energy explains everything including gravity.”

          That is a little over the top.

          My understanding is that the hypothesis is that electromagnetism needs to be included, along with gravity, to explain what is happening in space. The old fashioned gravity model is not enough; dark matter/energy isn’t producing much success and the EU (Electric Universe (: ) is an attempt to make some progress.

          There is a lot of evidence that it affects the Sun / Earth relationship, such as solar CMEs, flares and coronal holes affecting the solar wind, cosmic rays, cloud formation and weather. The Sun’s electromagnetic behaviour also affects the gas giants.
          There are also studies about it in intergalactic space which can be found on YouTube.
          It looks like it is early days, with an Establishment acting as Establishment’s do! :)

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            el gordo

            Yes indeed, nicely put.

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            crakar24

            The current solar model states all fusion takes place in the centre of the star and therefore the heaviest element that can be produced is Iron because beyond this the pressure would be so great it would shut down the fusion process, any elements heavier than this are created when the star super nova’s………….and then along came Betelgeuse to blow the theory away.

            The electric universe theory states fusion occurs on the surface of the sun, sunspots are a product of the magnetic fields not containing the fusion reactions when the sun is active.

            The electric universe theory makes far more sense than current day thinking.

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    • #
      joseph

      “I’m wondering what the electric universe people will have to say about this.”

      And here’s what they’ve said . . . . . .
      https://www.thunderbolts.info/wp/2019/04/10/black-heart/

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    • #
      theRealUniverse

      This isnt a black hole its a creation event (QSSC Hoyle et. al 1993-2000) through a super compact object. M87 ejects quasars of newly created material hence high redshift. Proven by H Arp 20 years ago.

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      • #
        theRealUniverse

        Moderation? …

        From comments in the ACG (Alternative cosmology group) group,
        “but it is noted
        that the latest EHT data is based only on two bands (227.1 and 229.1 GHz)
        and I don’t see any data from 86 GHz as reported by ALMA in January for Sgr
        A. So it is hard to say whether the “hole” is really dark at all
        frequencies or if it is only dark at 230 GHz, but bright at 86 GHz, i.e. is
        the hole a feature that appears by selectively accepting a narrow band of
        frequency data and rejecting other bands that suggest something different?”

        Sagitarius A is the most powerful radio source known.

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    crakar24

    If only we could harness the power of that hole Old Billy ten minutes might be able to save his election campaign i will get Tony to crunch the numbers.

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    • #

      Umm, here’s an idea.

      Once he gets elected, we could get Prime Minister Bill to lead a Scientific expedition to the black hole to see if the power could be harnessed to service the electrical vehicle fleet here in Oz. He could take a couple of his ministers and some Greens Senators along to help out with the speeches.

      Let’s see now. It would only take 87,635,714,290 years to get there. They could spend a month or two assessing the situation, and then come back (another 87 Billion years) to report to the Parliament.

      So Bill rocks up to the current Leader of the House and says (speech prepared by The Greens) – Hi, I’m Bill Shorten.

      Bill who!

      Gives a whole new meaning to the term “Are we there yet?”

      Tony.

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      • #

        I bet you think I made up that figure of 87 Billion years plus.

        55 million Light years, (at the speed of light, 186000 Miles per second) and using current technology for space travel, Earth escape velocity, 17500MPH.

        Keep in mind here that what they saw in this photograph happened those 87 Billion years (plus) ago.

        Tony.

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      • #
        Kinky Keith

        I’ll donate to that.

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      • #
        crakar24

        The key to comedy is timing……well done Tony

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    TdeF

    What relief to be enjoying real science at the limits of the imagination instead of imaginary science.

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    Bill in Oz

    This is interesting – sort of.

    Let’s be pleased it is 60 million light years away so that we are safely far away from it.

    The photo itself is a photo.

    But what use is it ?

    Until and unless we discover how to actually travel faster than light, the reality is we are ‘incarcerated’ in the Earth & the Sun’s gravity well.

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    • #

      While you can’t travel through space faster than the speed of light, you may be able to tunnel through the time dimension of space-time and traverse an effectively shorter path to the destination. When you get there, you’re in its future relative to the light observed from Earth when you left and when you look back at the Earth, you will see the light emitted by Earth in its past.

      This is the expected behavior of one kind of hypothetical warp drive, where you compress the time dimension in the direction of travel while expanding it where you are coming from. It’s a subtle distinction and you’re only traveling through time at a velocity greater than the speed of light, but not space. It does require curving space and time independently and this is where a curvature representation of charge shows promise.

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  • #
    John Francis

    Objects can whizz around it in a week? By whose clock? Relativity shows that time runs very slowly near the black hole, from our perspective, and it takes forever to orbit at the event horizon.

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    Keith L

    In the 1960′s the Russians landed a probe on Mars but interestingly it was not a Soviet news agency that published the first pictures of the Martian surface.
    It was a small Rhodesian rural newspaper. The editor had managed to get a picture of the Martian surface by taking a blurry photo of a Ryvita.
    Had he been around today I am sure that he could once again have scooped the world with a blurry picture of a doughnut. (Not just any doughnut, of course, it would obviously have to be an iced doughnut.)

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    Terry

    Climate Change caused this.

    If we don’t hand over the rest of our wallets and all of our freedom to the UN, this black hole will expand and destroy the earth within 12 years. No kidding.

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    tom0mason

    Interesting but how are they sure this isn’t just a massive object between us and a radio bright far object causing gravitational lensing of the radio signal.
    This look very similar to the gravitational lensing seen with light …

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gravitational_lensing_of_distant_star-forming_galaxies_%28schematic%29_2.webm

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    • #
      Greg Cavanagh

      I can’t answer for sure; but I’d imagine they’d have information on the light spectrum of the ring. If it is an excretion disk spinning at “ludicrous speed”, then it would have a specific spectrum. Whereas if it is galaxies behind the object lensing, then they would have star light spectrum.

      To my it looks like a black Saturn with the ring not quite square to the camera. Hence the bright bulge at the bottom and partially hidden at the top.

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    • #
      Gee aye

      that picture is an amalgam of radio data converted into something for us to see. The fact that it is an orange circle and it looks like another orange circle which is itself a representation of data is entirely coincidental.

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      • #
        sophocles

        can you be sure that yellow colour is not blue-shifted red?

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      • #
        StefanL

        For once I totally agree with Gee aye.

        I am heartily sick and tired of seeing astronomical pictures that purport to be real, natural colour, images when they are not.
        Not saying that they shouldn’t be published, but they should be VERY clearly labelled:
        e.g. false colour image, artist’s impression, enhanced contrast photo, etc.

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  • #
    Yonniestone

    What a waste of resources, they should have searched between Earth and Mars and found that bloody Teapot!!

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  • #
    pat

    9 Apr: NOAA: U.S. hit with two billion-dollar disasters so far in 2019
    Nation has its coldest first quarter in 5 years
    The so-called bomb cyclone that brought heavy snow, blizzard conditions and major flooding to the Midwest in March landed with a resounding meteorological “ka-boom!” and became one of two billion-dollar weather and climate disasters this year.
    The other was a severe storm that struck the Northeast, Southeast and Ohio Valley in late February.
    And it’s only April…

    The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during March was 40.68 degrees F (0.82 of a degree below average), ranking in the middle third of the 125-year record for the month, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information…

    The average U.S. temperature for the year to date (January through March) was 35.03 degrees F (0.12 of a degree F below average), which landed among the middle third of the record. This was the coldest start to a year since 2014…

    A baked Alaska: Last month’s temperatures in Alaska were 15.9 degrees F above average, making it the hottest March for the state in the 95-year record….
    https://www.noaa.gov/news/us-hit-with-two-billion-dollar-disasters-so-far-in-2019

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  • #
    TdeF

    It’s like being able to see Canberra from my place, sucking the entire grid and all the coal power stations into a black hole and all our cash for electricity using the illegal RET scheme they pushed into law.

    All that will be left are giant unserviceable private windmills but bought with our cash and which work when and as they please. And inadequate solar panels which do not work some days and never at night. We will be a third world country where we wait for the wind to blow. Then if anyone comes to take our coal by force, we will fight back with our diesel submarines, provided they will sell us some diesel.

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  • #

    Very, very cool. Sitting having a beer talking with my 2nd son about the effects of gravity on light and time and he proposed this: As humans we perceive time conceptually as the measurement of the passing of events, BUT, if time slows the faster one travels, in particular when considering relativistic speeds, does that mean time is more than a concept and something more tangible, maybe akin to a force?
    Thoughts please….
    I need whisky………

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    • #
      TdeF

      No, time is a measure like distance. However they are coupled to form a constant in four dimensions. It all depends on your frame of refernce. In any given frame live does not change. It is only when observed from another frame travelling at a different speed. It is all relative, thus relativety.

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    • #
      Bill in Oz

      My brother once ht me over the head with this thought :
      “Travelling at the speed of light
      Means Time stops and
      All distance is abolished”

      I still puzzle over that thought occasionally..

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  • #
    robert rosicka

    Ahh so it’s just up the road then !

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    Ruairi

    Of black holes, some folks are now weary,
    And their dense singularity query,
    As no data it’s clear,
    Can ever disappear,
    According to Planck’s quantum theory.

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  • #
    Kevin Anderson

    IRAN PAYS (as low as $0.006 per kilowatt-hour) FOR ELECTRICITY!?
    Chinese crypto miners flocked to IRAN last year because electricity is cheap (as low as $0.006 per kilowatt-hour) in the oil-rich nation.
    https://www.ccn.com/chinese-bitcoin-miners-iran-for-cheap-electricity

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  • #
    Ve2

    These photons started their journey during the Eocene on Earth, so Antarctica was covered in subtropical rainforest and the biggest mammals were about the size of pet cats.

    And now we only 12 years left.

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    el gordo

    ‘China’s lunar rover Yutu-2 has traveled 170.92 meters on the far side of the Moon, according to the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Tuesday.

    ‘The rover now continues its exploration work in the fourth lunar daytime after a noon break from April 2 to April 8 due to extremely high temperatures on the Moon.’

    CGTN

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  • #
    Svend Ferdinandsen

    It is not a photo nor an image in general language. It is a graphical representation of the remarkable measurements they made. It is remarkable but call it what it is.
    The rain radar don’t make pictures of the rain, but present it in some form, that is not a picture, nor an image.

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    • #
      StefanL

      Exactly.

      See my reply to Gee aye above (#16.2.2)

      Too many mainstream astronomers/astrophysicists are copying from the warmist playbook — dramatise and exaggerate to impress the general public and funding bodies in order to keep the grants flowing.

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