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La toute première image de l'ombre d'un trou noir

Scientists have successfully taken first ever picture of the shadow of a trou noir providing direct observation of its immediate environment

Image taken from “EHTC, Akiyama K et al 2019, ‘First M87 Event Horizon Telescope Results. I. The Shadow of the Supermassive Trou noir‘, The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Vol. 875, no. L1.”

Le super-massif les trous noirs were first predicted by Einstein in 1915 in his General Theory of Relativity when he showed gravity bends light. There have been many developments since then but never any direct evidence. Scientists were only able to detect them indirectly. The first real picture of the shadow of a super massive trou noir has now been captured providing first direct evidence of their presence, thanks to ”The Event Horizon Télescope Collaboration".

La les trous noirs are extremely compressed mass in a very small region. Its gravity is so high that nothing at all escapes if gets too close to its boundary. The Event Horizon is the boundary around the trou noir that marks what is inside and what is outside. Once anything crosses this boundary, it gets swallowed and can never come out. Trous noirs swallow all light therefore they are invisible and cannot be seen or pictured.

The intense gravity of trou noir attracts and pulls interstellar gas onto itself faster and faster. This heats up the gas immensely and light radiation is emitted. These emissions are warped into a circular ring by the gravity of the trou noir.

A trou noir itself is invisible but its shadow against super-heated gas cloud around it could be pictured.

Black hole’s presence couldn’t be directly observed uptill now mainly due to the fact that les trous noirs are extremely small targets for the available radio telescopes which were not capable enough to observe their event horizon. Observing les trous noirs directly needed building an ingenious telescope virtually the size of Earth.

It took about a decade to organise a network of telescopes called the ”Event Horizon Telescope” spanning the face of the Earth which combined eight separate telescopes in Mexico, Arizona, Hawaii, Chile and South Pole. All eight dishes of the telescope needed to be linked and pointed towards the trou noir at exactly the same time. The signals received by the telescopes were combined by a correlator (a super computer) to give an image of the event horizon of the trou noir.

Le succès de cette expérience est une percée importante en astronomie.

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{Vous pouvez lire le document de recherche original en cliquant sur le lien DOI ci-dessous dans la liste des sources citées}

Sources)

1. EHTC, ​​Akiyama K et al 2019. Premiers résultats du télescope M87 Event Horizon. I. L'ombre du trou noir supermassif'. Les lettres du journal astrophysique, 875 (L1) https://doi.org/10.3847/2041-8213/ab0ec7

2. Institut Max Planck de radioastronomie, 2019. Première image d'un trou noir. Récupéré de https://www.mpg.de/13337404/first-ever-picture-of-black-hole

3. BlackHoleCam, 2019. IMAGINER L'HORIZON DE L'ÉVÉNEMENT DES TROUS NOIRS, Récupéré de https://blackholecam.org/

4. Commission européenne – Communiqué de presse, 2019. Des scientifiques financés par l'UE dévoilent la toute première image d'un trou noir. Récupéré de http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-19-2053_en.htm

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