Several months after astronomers revealed the first-ever photograph of a black hole to the public, NASA has presented new visual material that offers a glimpse of how these enigmatic celestial bodies appear to observers.
The US space agency’s creation allows viewers see how the accretion disk looks and behaves, and how “the black hole’s extreme gravity alters the paths of light coming from different parts of the disk, producing the warped image.”
The fact that the left side of the accretion disk featured in this model appears to be brighter that its right side is also not accidental as, according to the explanation posted on NASA’s website, this difference is caused by the fact that in this scenario, the gas on the left side of the disk “moves toward us so fast that the effects of Einstein’s relativity give it a boost in brightness,” while “the opposite happens on the right side, where gas moving away us becomes slightly dimmer”.
"Simulations and movies like these really help us visualise what Einstein meant when he said that gravity warps the fabric of space and time,” said Jeremy Schnittman, generated the images in question by using the man who custom software at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. "Until very recently, these visualisations were limited to our imagination and computer programs. I never thought that it would be possible to see a real black hole".