(TMU) – In 2019, scientists stunned the world with the first-ever image of a black hole. They constructed the image using a global decentralized telescope array, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), which captured radio-frequency signals from the enormous black hole at the center of the M87 galaxy 55 million light-years away.
Because of the way its monstrous gravitational influence absorbs light, a black hole cannot directly be seen. But the resulting image – assembled using interferometry, and computational power equal to ten thousand laptops – gave humanity its first-ever visual glimpse of the shadow of a black hole’s accretion disk.
Now the team of radio astronomers and astrophysicists has released the next volume in their landmark work, a “movie” of the M87 black hole that compresses years of data to show an animation of the exotic object’s “wobbling” movements. The sequence of frames does not depict how the black hole itself moves but rather the turbulence of strong magnetic fields turbo-charging the surrounding hot gas and matter of the accretion disk.
“Because the flow of matter falling onto a black hole is turbulent, we can see that the ring wobbles with time,” says lead author Maciek Wielgus.
Breaking: After its historic 2019 image of M87*, the @ehtelescope has dug into its vault of old data and reconstructed (with some guesswork) what the supermassive black hole would have looked like in previous years. It wobbles!https://t.co/Zf2eM7Vfwp pic.twitter.com/vGMAxzHelN
— Davide Castelvecchi (@dcastelvecchi) September 23, 2020
While it boggles the mind to imagine how scientists can capture such precise data from 55 million light-years away, it helps to remember that the telescope array technology they’re using has such powerful angular resolution it could “observe a billiard game being played on the Moon and not lose track of the score!”
As their data sets increase, scientists say analysis of M87 and other black holes will improve and their animations will become far more detailed.
“These early-EHT experiments provide us with a treasure trove of long-term observations that the current EHT, even with its remarkable imaging capability, cannot match,” said Shep Doeleman of EHT. “When we first measured the size of M87 in 2009, we couldn’t have foreseen that it would give us the first glimpse of black hole dynamics. If you want to see a black hole evolve over a decade, there is no substitute for having a decade of data.”
Such data will help test and further corroborate black hole predictions made by Einstein and Stephen Hawking. A campaign next year that uses shorter-wavelength radiation will augment the resolution of the team’s images and provide even better glimpses of the eerie black hole shadow.
Further interferometric study of black holes could yield information about their internal concentric photon rings, which scientists believe contain their own unique “movies” with information about the history of the cosmos. As we uncover truths about black holes – unquestionably the most exotic and mysterious object in the universe – they believe we will learn more about cosmology and physics.
Some scientists believe black holes hold the key to unlocking the answers to dark matter and possibly even uniting the fields of relativity and quantum mechanics.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.