How to See a Black Hole

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Black holes might be the most commonly common topic in astrophysics, and with great reason: puzzle is the essential foundation of popularity. They were suggested to exist as ancient as the 18th century, hunted after intensely starting in the mid-20th, however just lately could investigators pinpoint them. Yet to really understand, they need to view — something which black holes don’t immediately support.

Stephen Hawking once said that searching for a black hole is like “looking for a black cat in a coal cellar.” To the amateur viewer it is even more abstract. Trying to “see” a black hole is like trying to “see” sound. Ears and eyes are detecting instruments that rely upon the brain to interpret the information they gather. But no instrument may visualize exactly what it can’t find — one reason humans can’t view in the dim.

So if the kitty in the coal basement meows, how do the listener be sure he is hearing a kitty? He might imagine a cat according to his memory of noises, but he’s no scientific strategy to judge its size, shape, or colour. Thus is the battle between black holes and telescopes — they can indicate the black holes are there via gravity lensing or x-ray emission, but any given telescope may detect them by simply blocking out the other senses.

But what if multiple telescopes of different designs are concentrated on the same place — for instance, Sagittarius A*, the super massive black hole in the centre of the Milky Way Galaxy? If the kitty meows in a lighted room, the brain may confirm it is a kitty when the ear slips the noise and the eye concentrates on its origin. By likewise acting as the ears, eyes, and brain, multiple telescopes can view a black hole and also create a authentic real-time image. Quite literally, seeing the image is seeing the black hole.

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