While it’s highly unrecommended to go right through a black hole with a spaceship to see for sure what happens there, science still has plenty of compelling tools to examine these cosmic monsters accurately. Black holes had puzzled the astronomers and even the human comprehension itself since Albert Einstein predicted their existence over a century ago in 1916.
But regardless of how terrifying black holes can be, as they possess infinite gravity capable of guzzling even light, these mysterious structures have some very useful roles in the Universe. For instance, a supermassive black hole like the one that dwells at the center of our Milky Way have critical roles in the formation and evolution of the galaxies themselves. But things can get even more revealing in ways that astronomers wouldn’t even dream about.
Galaxy M87 enters the spotlight
A team of researchers from the United States have focused their attention on the black hole located at the center of the M87 galaxy, which is very far away from us: around 55 million light-years. This black hole became famous last year for being the only one ever caught on a photo by humanity. By assessing the light particles known as photons that surround the black hole, the stunning conclusion was that this light can act as a ‘movie’ of the Universe itself. The photons can reveal how the black hole formed, as well as providing insight into the activity surrounding it.
The scientists said in their research paper:
“The Event Horizon Telescope image of the supermassive black hole in the galaxy M87 is dominated by a bright, unresolved ring.
“General relativity predicts that embedded within this image lies a thin ‘photon ring,’ which is composed of an infinite sequence of self-similar subrings that are indexed by the number of photon orbits around the black hole.”
Unfortunately for us, astronomers can only analyze the observable Universe, meaning the portion of space from where light had enough time to reach us during the 13.8 billion years since the Big Bang. The Universe can be even millions of times bigger than what humanity can possibly observe with the most powerful telescopes. The expansion of the Universe is even faster than the speed of light, and yet another poetic idea emerges: light reveals the Universe for us.