New Simulation Offers Stunning Images of Black Hole Merger
A binary black hole system, viewed edge-on. The two black holes twist and warp spacetime as they spiral in toward one another. Image Credit: Bohn, Throwe, Hébert, Henriksson, Bunandar, Taylor, Scheel (see http://www.black-holes.org/lensing)
A black hole is an extraordinarily massive, improbably dense knot of spacetime that makes a living swallowing or slinging away any morsel of energy that strays too close to its dark, twisted core. Anyone fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to directly observe one of these beasts in the wild would immediately notice the way its colossal gravitational field warps all of the light from the stars and galaxies behind it, a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing.
Thanks to the power of supercomputers, a curious observer no longer has to venture into outer space to see such a sight. A team of astronomers has released their first simulated images of the lensing effects of not just one, but two black holes, trapped in orbit by each other’s gravity and ultimately doomed to merge as one.
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