Scientists have detected Light echoing from behind a black hole for the first time, proving Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity from a century ago. It is accepted that due to a black hole’s extremely powerful gravitational pull, even Light that gets sucked in can never escape. The study was published in Journal Nature.The group of researchers from Stanford University, led by astrophysicist Dan Wilkins, discovered, however, that a black hole’s gravity warping spacetime in its vicinity also allows Light to echo or bend around it.The phenomenon proved Einstein’s predictions of how gravity bends Light around black holes, the European Space Agency said in a release on July 28.
The scientists recorded the Light coming from behind a black hole using the ESA’s XMM-Newton and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s NuSTAR space telescopes. The team was initially studying a supermassive black hole’s corona. Coronas produce extremely bright flares of X-ray Light seen above black holes.
This particular black hole is 10 million times bigger than our sun and is located at the center of a nearby spiral galaxy called I Zwicky 1, around 800 million Light years away from Earth. The ESA explained that the X-ray flares echoed off of the gas falling into the black hole, and as the flares were subsiding, the telescopes picked up fainter flashes, which were the echoes of the flares bouncing off the gas behind the black hole.
They added that the X-ray flare observed from I Zwicky 1 was so bright that some of the X-rays shone down onto the disk of gas falling into the black hole. The X-rays that reflected on the gas behind the black hole were bent around the black hole, and these smaller flashes arrived at the telescopes with a delay.