NASA Shares Black Hole Visualizations

Posted on September 27, 2019

NASA Black Hole Visualization

NASA has released new visualizations of a black hole to illustrate how its gravity warps its surroundings and distorts our view. The extreme gravity of the black hole skews light emissions and results in the its misshapen appearance.

The visualization shows the brightest light from glowing gas on the left side of the accretion disk because here light is moving toward us. It is fainter on the right side where the light is moving away from us.

The dark area in the center is called the black hole shadow. It is twice the size of the event horizon and is formed by its gravitational lensing and capture of light rays.

NASA released a series of black hole animations on nasa.gov. They can also be seen in the video below. You can view a larger version of the above labeled image on nasa.gov.

Jeremy Schnittman, who generated the NASA images, says in the announcement, "Simulations and movies like these really help us visualize what Einstein meant when he said that gravity warps the fabric of space and time. Until very recently, these visualizations were limited to our imagination and computer programs. I never thought that it would be possible to see a real black hole."

The first image of a black hole was captured with the Event Horizon Telescope in April.





Image: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Jeremy Schnittman