For the First Time Ever, Magnetic Field at the Edge of the Black Hole Can be Mapped

Captured by NASA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STSci/AURA)

Scientists from EHT released the jaw dropping picture of black hole very recently. Indeed it’s a ground breaking discovery. The first picture of the supermassive black hole at the heart of the galaxy called m87 was first captured in 2019. After 2 years of pouring over the data, they have released a newer version of their famous photo. A major mystery of black holes involves jets of matter which can be launched off into space by the supermassive black holes at nearly the speed of light. The galaxy m87 has a black hole at the center with just such a jet, one that extends for at least 5000 light years. Before 2 decades, the hubble space telescope captured a picture of m87 displaying this jet, spearing it’s way across the cosmos.

Original photo clip of Galaxy m87: Captured in 2019

Black holes are largely known for their insatiable appetite. Anything straying too close and crossing a threshold known as Event Horizon gets sucked in by the black hole’s inescapable gravity through which even light can’t break free. Matter outside the Event Horizon can form an accretion disk glowing extremely brightly as it swirls around, Some of the matter before falling into the jaws of the crushing doom of black hole gets shot off in that spectacular jet.

After studying the new image of the black hole, it was revealed that a lot of light around the black hole is polarized which means that the photons are vibrating in the same plane. When light is emitted by plasma in a magnetic field, the field orders the plasma and acts like a filter aligning the photons’ vibrations. The magnetic field line at the edge of the black hole can be mapped by this information for the first time ever. This can answer the mystery how black holes can swallow some matter while ejecting other matter into space.

Different models have been used for explaining the behaviour of the gas around the black holes out of which the models with a stronger magnetic field are likely more accurate. A strong magnetic field would account for the observed behaviour where much of the matter in the ring around the black hole resists since pull. This helped researchers in estimating how fast the black hole is swallowing. It absorbs 1/1000 of solar mass per year although it has a mass of about 6.5 billion suns. All the captured images can explain the interaction of magnetic field with matter from the event horizon all the way through the jet. Several event horizon telescopes from different observatories around the world are working together. It is predicted that very soon, a moving image of m87 supermassive black hole can be created to farther explore what’s happening.