Black holes are one of the most powerful and mysterious forces in the universe. They have a significant impact on how galaxies and stars form and evolve over time.
But as important as black holes are, we know very little about them.
Recent discoveries have proven black hole theories, shedding light on how black holes influence the growth of the universe.
These discoveries have paved the future for black hole research, although black holes are still full of many mysteries.
How black holes affect galaxies
Scientists have detected very powerful winds, measuring in speeds up to thousands of kilometers per second, coming from black holes.
The wind is caused by the energy that the black hole releases as it consumes more debris and grows in size.
We knew black holes released this wind, but studies show it has a huge impact on how galaxies evolve.
Many galaxies have large black holes at their center, which affect the development of stars. In fact, black hole winds can impede the formation of stars, affecting the makeup of a galaxy.
The effect is even more pronounced in galaxies with supermassive black holes, which consume mass at an even faster rate.
How we study black holes
Although we don’t quite understand the role black holes play in the evolution of the universe, it’s clear that they affect the formation of astronomical bodies like stars.
But the reason we know so little about black holes is that they’re difficult to see. Not even light can escape a black hole, which means it’s incredibly hard to observe.
Everything we know about black holes is gleaned from an area around the black hole itself, called the accretion disk.
The accretion disk is a ring of gas, dust, and debris that circles black holes. Mass in the accretion disk circles the black hole until the black hole ultimately consumes it.
We might not be able to see the black hole itself, but we can watch the movements of the accretion disk to understand a black hole’s behavior.
For example, the shape of the accretion disk tells us how the black hole spins and its growth rate.
Scientists have been trying to observe the alignment of these accretion disks because they help us determine a black hole’s trajectory over time.
In 1975, physicist John Bardeen and astrophysicist Jacobus Patterson argued that accretion disks should align with the black hole’s equator.
This was just a theory at the time, and scientists have been pursuing the Bardeen-Petterson Effect for 40 years.
This year, scientists finally made a breakthrough: they created a simulation that simulated the Bardeen-Pettersen Effect.
This is no small feat. Black holes are notoriously hard to study for two reasons.
First, the accretion disk is close to the black hole, which means it’s moving through warped space-time, affecting calculations.
Second, astrophysicists couldn’t compute magnetic turbulence inside the black hole. This was only possible after technology advanced enough that scientists could manipulate graphics and images.
Many more mysteries to solve
This discovery proved a lot of theories we had about black holes. It was the first time scientists proved that a black hole’s accretion disk does align with the black hole’s equator.
This is an exciting development that paves the way for better, more advanced black hole simulations.
We’re getting closer to understanding the mysteries of the black hole. This simulation is a small step forward to understanding how black holes affect the development of galaxies and the universe.