Astronomers spot light from behind a black hole for the first time — proving Einstein right, again - CBS News
Jul 30, 2021 1 min, 6 secs

For the first time ever, astronomers have directly detected light from behind a supermassive black hole.

Using the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton and NASA's NuSTAR space telescopes, researchers were observing the black hole as it flung X-rays out into the universe.

According to a study published this week in the journal Nature, the "echoes" of light appeared consistent with X-rays reflected from behind the black hole — a very strange place for light to originate.

"Any light that goes into that black hole doesn't come out, so we shouldn't be able to see anything that's behind the black hole," said lead author Dan Wilkins in a statement.

"Fifty years ago, when astrophysicists starting speculating about how the magnetic field might behave close to a black hole, they had no idea that one day we might have the techniques to observe this directly and see Einstein's general theory of relativity in action," said co-author Roger Blandford. 

"This magnetic field getting tied up and then snapping close to the black hole heats everything around it and produces these high energy electrons that then go on to produce the X-rays," said Wilkins. 

From here, astronomers hope to use the various "colors" observed as the X-ray echoes travel around the black hole to create a 3D map of the black hole surroundings

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