Fall Into A Black Hole At The Speed Of Light With New Simulator

February 10, 2010 by Ted Goodman report
Simulated view of a black hole in front of the Large Magellanic Cloud. The ratio between the black hole Schwarzschild radius and the observer distance to it is 1:9. Of note is the gravitational lensing effect known as an Einstein ring, which produces a set of two fairly bright and large but highly distorted images of the Cloud as compared to its actual angular size. (Image: Wikipedia)

(PhysOrg.com) -- Black holes are my constant companions, at least in my imagination. Starting back a couple of decades ago, two sets of basketball tickets disappeared into one of them, and since then a pair of ski gloves, a gold ring, and more CD’s than I can count were sucked out of my hands in the same way.

Not too many of us have actually seen a black hole, but Thomas Müller, physics student, and Daniel Weiskopf, computer science professor, at the University of Stuttgart, have programmed a vision for us. With their of a black hole in space, you can really imagine what it would be like to be in the pull of one.

A black hole occurs from the huge of an . The force is so strong and dense that nothing can escape it, not even light. In fact, the enormous of the black hole would seem to displace the surrounding stars, creating dynamic and dramatic changes in, let’s say, a constellation. This effect is explained by the Schwarzchild black hole.

The Müller/Weiskopf simulation, detailed in the February 2010 issue of the American Journal of Physics, shows what happens to stars as they approach the black hole. In the video below, you can see the large stars of the constellation Orion seemingly split into two, mirror images of each other on opposite sides of the black hole.

The video will load shortly.
In this video an observer rotates around the Schwarzschild black hole. Video: Thomas Müller, Daniel Weiskopf

The video will load shortly.
Free fall towards the black hole. Video: Thomas Müller, Daniel Weiskopf
As you look into the dark boundary of the hole, or the event horizon, you can see that the stars change colors, appearing redder, as the energy is sapped out of the star’s photons passing near the event horizon. But if you freefall towards the black hole, which the simulator allows you to do, the stars turn bluer due to the Doppler effect. Once in the center of the black hole, there is just the sight of a dazzlingly bright ring that appears to be circling the universe.

The Müller/Weiskopf simulation program obtained its data from about 118,000 stars mapped by the European Space Agency's Hipparcos satellite. Once you download the program, you can see the effects of a Schwarzchild black hole on any constellation or grouping of stars you like.

But keep your CDs far away from your computer screen.

Explore further: Living fossils hold record of 'supermassive' kick

More information: -- American Journal of Physics paper: scitation.aip.org/getabs/servl … vips&gifs=yes&ref=no
-- Thomas Müller page: www.vis.uni-stuttgart.de/~muelleta/IntBH/
-- New Scientist www.newscientist.com/article/d … ss&nsref=online-news

Related Stories

Living fossils hold record of 'supermassive' kick

July 9, 2009

The tight cluster of stars surrounding a supermassive black hole after it has been violently kicked out of a galaxy represents a new kind of astronomical object and a fossil record of the kick.

Rogue Black Holes May Roam the Milky Way

April 29, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- It sounds like the plot of a sci-fi movie: rogue black holes roaming our galaxy, threatening to swallow anything that gets too close. In fact, new calculations by Ryan O'Leary and Avi Loeb (Harvard-Smithsonian ...

Black Hole Blows Bubble Between The Stars

August 11, 2005

A team of astronomers from The Netherlands and the UK has discovered a vast "jet-powered bubble" formed in the gas around a black hole in the Milky Way.

Ultrafast star escapes black hole

September 21, 2006

At last astronomers have a method to accurately measure the speed of stars within a galaxy containing a black hole. Dutch researcher Alessia Gualandris developed the algorithm for this in cooperation with the Astronomical ...

Recommended for you

Microbes leave 'fingerprints' on Martian rocks

October 17, 2017

Scientists around Tetyana Milojevic from the Faculty of Chemistry at the University of Vienna are in search of unique biosignatures, which are left on synthetic extraterrestrial minerals by microbial activity. The biochemist ...

Astronomers identify new asynchronous short period polar

October 16, 2017

(Phys.org)—An international team of astronomers led by Gagik H. Tovmassian of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) has uncovered new details into the nature of a cataclysmic variable known as IGR J19552+0044. ...

The remarkable jet of the quasar 4C+19.44

October 16, 2017

Quasars are galaxies with massive black holes at their cores. So much energy is being radiated from near the nucleus of a quasar that it is much brighter than the rest of the entire galaxy. Much of that radiation is at radio ...

On the generation of solar spicules and Alfvenic waves

October 13, 2017

Combining computer observations and simulations, a new model shows that the presence of neutrals in the gas facilitates the magnetic fields to penetrate through the surface of the Sun producing the spicules. In this study, ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

5 / 5 (5) Feb 10, 2010
In fact, the enormous gravitational pull of the black hole would seem to displace the surrounding stars, creating dynamic and dramatic changes in, let’s say, a constellation.

Bad wording, so let's clarify. The black hole has no more gravity overall, than the star that created it. In fact, it has less, since only a fraction of the star's mass prior to the supernova explosion ends up in the black hole. It does strongly bend light that passes near its event horizon, distorting an observer's view of the constellations behind or near it.
Once in the center of the black hole, there is just the sight of a dazzlingly bright ring that appears to be circling the universe.

That's not the center yet; that's a bit prior to passing through the event horizon, at a distance where light is able to "orbit" the hole. Past the event horizon, you'd see nothing at all if you keep looking toward the singularity.
3.5 / 5 (2) Feb 11, 2010
I didn't really like the jokey start to this article either. I realise this isn't a hard-science periodical, but the slide towards journo-science here is apalling.
3 / 5 (1) Feb 11, 2010
A black hole occurs from the huge gravitational force of an exploding star.

Ooo, I don't think so....
3 / 5 (1) Feb 11, 2010
1) what determines the rotation axis of a black hole? Surely it can't merely be that of the pre-existing star .. i should think supernova's would eliminate that possibility

2) How can a black hole have a half-life, if time stops within it?

4 / 5 (1) Feb 11, 2010
2. Black hole evaporation as theorised by Stephen Hawking.

A virtual pair is created from nothing out of the chaos, as they do all the time, one of them passes the event horizon and can't then join it's anti-particle, whcih shoots off into space.

By conservation of energy, the black hole loses energy (and mass) in this reaction and this is observed as 'Hawking radiation' (proven by observation, I believe) coming off the surface of black holes - one half of a virtual pair.
5 / 5 (3) Feb 11, 2010
what determines the rotation axis of a black hole? Surely it can't merely be that of the pre-existing star

In fact it can, and is. Conservation of angular momentum. If the star was rotating, so will the black hole. You can see this illustrated in the case of pulsars: they're neutron stars left behind by supernovae, and they rotate very rapidly. Stellar black holes come from the same process, just taken to an ultimate extreme: the compression of the core is so great, that all repulsive forces are overwhelmed and the core just collapses into a vanishingly tiny point (in theory.)
...observed as 'Hawking radiation' (proven by observation, I believe)

No, it is not observed; just theorized. It's impossible to observe Hawking radiation in practice, because for all but the most microscopic black holes it is very weak, and easily hidden by both background noise and the radiation emitted by matter (even if it's only the interstellar medium) still accreting onto the black hole.
not rated yet Feb 12, 2010
A most excellent site with many black hole "movies" can be found at the "Journey into a Schwarzschild black hole" website: http://jila.color...chw.html

Highly recommended.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.