Black Hole Cam Project: Visiting A Black Hole Without Leaving Earth


Despite the fact that black holes are shown in many science fiction films, astrophysicists still do not know what they look like in reality. It seems that the time of ignorance has partially passed – the researchers from the Netherlands carried out complex calculations and released a video in which the black hole can be viewed in detail inside virtual reality. The program was implemented as part of the Black Hole Cam project, funded by the European Union.

Black Hole Cam Project
Supermassive Black Hole Sagittarius A*/Image Credit: NASA

In the Black Hole Cam project, researchers have provided the information to go inside a black hole called Sagittarius A*, which is located in the middle of the Milky Way. On the basis of data, the paths of movement of light rays that distort the surrounding sp ace were calculated.

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The researchers showed how the Universe would look in the eyes of a person who falls into the black hole. The first part shows non-distorted space: red and green colors indicate what a person sees in front, and yellow and blue indicate what is behind.

In the second part, you can see that a black hole increases the viewing angle – to see what is behind, a person does not even need to turn his head. If a person does not fall into the hole but opposes its attraction, the viewing angle decreases.

Black Hole Cam Project
The distortion of the space around the black hole

Based on this data, the researchers created a fascinating video of what a black hole looks like for an object being drawn inside.

In this video, the object itself is drawn into the hole. In the interval from 0:40 to 1:41, the object approaches the black hole – its shadow, seen in the middle, is gradually closed by hot gas flows. Further, the viewer is in maximum proximity to dense accretion disk therefore, almost nothing happens in front of his eyes. At the end of the “journey”, the person comes out of the black hole like of one of the polar jet streams.

One of the authors of the Black Hole Cam project, Heino Falcke, admitted that they had imagined black holes a bit differently. Researchers identified two results of their work. First, a detailed examination gave them a lot of information that will help in understanding the fundamental laws of physics. Secondly, the panoramic video allowed to tell about black holes to a wide audience in the most interesting form.

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