In a photo of a black hole, a possible key to mysteries

Billions of people worldwide marveled at the first image ever captured of a black hole. The photo of the glowing, blurry doughnut, taken by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) team, showed the massive dark region, a monster the size of our solar system, that, like its peers, gobbles up everything even light that ventures too close.

“I definitely got shivers down my spine,” said Alexander Lupsasca, a junior fellow in Harvard’s Center for the Fundamental Laws of Nature, remembering the moment he saw the photo for the first time.

It was thrilling because so very little is known about black holes. And now, Lupsasca and a team of scientists at Harvard’s Black Hole Initiative say the image may help provide more answers: Hidden within the glowing ring are an infinite number of subrings that offer a way to capture an even higher-resolution image and more precise data on the massive enigmas of the universe.

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“They’re paradoxical objects. They’re the epitome of what we don’t understand,”

said Andrew Strominger, the Gwill E. York Professor of Physics at Harvard.

“And it’s very exciting to see something that you don’t understand.”

Black holes are one of the great puzzles of modern physics where Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and quantum mechanics collide. Scientists still know so little about them their mass, how fast they spin, what’s inside their warped space-time.

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Until the EHT produced the first actual image, Strominger could only investigate their mysteries with complex mathematics, pencil, and paper. “I cried when I saw their picture,” he said. Then, he asked: “What can we learn from this?”

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Harvard Gazette

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A team of dedicated users that search, fetch and publish research stories for Ominy science.

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