This computer simulation takes you inside a black hole

Black holes are as complicated an entity as anything currently being studied in the far reaches of space. Although we’re a long way off from fully understanding black holes, astronomers are hard at work, trying to unravel the mysteries of the phenomenon.

A recent study by NASA, Johns Hopkins University and the Rochester Institute of Technology has brought us one step closer to the truth. This study “trace[d] the complex motions, particle interactions and turbulent magnetic fields in billion-degree gas on the threshold of a black hole.” With the results of the study, the team has been able to reproduce a range of X-ray features with the assistance of a simulation on the Ranger supercomputer.

NASA posted a video on YouTube (embedded above) that shows the simulator in action. It's worth reading the feature on NASA’s website as well for a greater understanding of the technical ramifications of the study, but the conclusion is that “both hard and soft X-rays inevitably arise from gas spiraling toward a black hole.” Hard X-rays are “light with energy tens to hundreds of times greater than soft [or low-energy] X-rays,” and astronomers have been attempting to find the origin of these X-rays for over 40 years. This simulation helped them do exactly that.

"Black holes are truly exotic, with extraordinarily high temperatures, incredibly rapid motions and gravity exhibiting the full weirdness of general relativity," Julian Krolik, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, told NASA. "But our calculations show we can understand a lot about them using only standard physics principles."

With the advances in technology, observations have become more precise than ever, and this is just one small step to an even greater understanding of one of the universe’s most fascinating phenomena.

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