by Carl Kruse
The following post is an excerpt from info provided by the SETI Institute for their online chat “Black Holes are Real. How Do They Shape Structure and Evolution in our Universe?” The talk is sponsored by Daniel Swanson and scheduled for Wednesday, October 20, 2021 at 7:00PM PDT. The Carl Kruse Nonprofits Blog encourages all to listen in to what should be a great discussion.
Seemingly plucked from fantasy novels, scientists these days can investigate black holes in surprising detail. These strange phenomena now seem common throughout space.
Although still far from piecing together a full picture of black holes, researchers using various techniques are uncovering different views of these amazing phenomena. One major advance happened in 2019, when an international effort known as the Event Horizon Telescope compiled the first photo of a black hole discovered in the middle of Messier 87, which astronomically speaking is a galaxy near our own Milky Way.
First ever image captured of a black hole courtesy of the Event Horizon Telescope.
A device called the “Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory” (LIGO) has even sensed ripples that form when black holes bump into each other.
As gas enters a black hole it releases an incredible quantity of energy. As weird as it seems, this means that black holes can be some of the brightest objects in space, particularly when looking via X-ray instruments. Observing X-rays produced as gas falls into a black hole provides a view of what is happening just outside the event horizon, on the edge of the black hole. Future space projects, such as the European Space Agency’s ATHENA mission, could uncover massive black holes dating back to the early universe and help understand how black holes grow and shape the cosmos.
The SETI Institute has invited two astronomers to chat about current research and instruments used for understanding black holes. The scientists are Dr. Laura Brenneman, of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who is involved in the ATHENA mission, and Dr. Dan Wilkins, a scientist at Stanford University. Walkins led a team that detected the first energy emanating from around a black hole—curved because of the bending of space-time around the phenomena. True Star Trek stuff.
Simon Steel of the SETI Institute moderates. The discussion will look at three major areas of inquiry: (1) how black holes provide evidence for the General Theory of Relativity proposed by Einstein, (2) how new instruments could better understand how black holes interact with host galaxies, and (3) how an advanced civilization could harness black holes as an energy source.
SETI Talks are free for everyone and happen because of donations from its supporters. If you might be interested in sponsoring a future SETI Talk, please email the SETI Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This chat will be via internet only so do sign up beforehand to access to the discussion.
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Contact: carl AT carlkruse DOT comcarlkruse.org
The blog’s last article was on Van Der Kolk and the Story of Trauma.
Other blog posts focusing on the SETI Institute include Can We Define Life, A Sixth Mass Extinction Likely?, Amateur Alien Hunters, and Are We Alone?
Carl Kruse is also involved with the Richard Dawkins Foundation, Rosetta@Home and SETI.