As mentioned in a previous article, the Event Horizon Telescope is an international collaboration aiming to obtain the first real image of the event horizon (EH) of a black hole using a set of antennas scattered around the globe. EHT has been monitoring and collecting data from the supermassive Black Hole (SMBH) at the core of the Milky Way galaxy, known as Sagittarius A*, and results are expected very soon, probably 2019.

Now, for the first time, the virtual reality simulation of Sagittarius A* has been achieved by a group of scientists at Radbound University and collaborators from the Institute of theoretical Physics, in Germany, and the Mullard Space Science laboratory, at the University College London. In their article “Observing Supermassive Black Holes in virtual reality”, published last week, authors explain the methodology for the obtention of a full 360° view inside the accretion flow of the SMBH.

Placing the observer inside the flow itself opens a new window in understanding the geometrical structure and dynamical properties of such systems.

A clever combination of tools that include the virtual camera setup, black hole shadow vacuum lensing tests (with stationary and free-falling observers at different radial positions), and the best-fit models of the most recent observations on Sagittarius A*, generate a complete 360° of the EH and its surroundings. The theoretical framework called GRMHD – general relativistic magnetohydrodynamical plasma model- is used as an input for the geometry of the accretion flow onto the black hole.

All geometrical, relativistic, and general-relativistic effects on the observed emission are naturally and self-consistently folded into the imaging calculation, providing a complete and physically-accurate depiction of what would really be seen from an observer’s perspective.

RSF in perspective: the combination of visualizations tools and the data recollection antennas such as the EHT will provide realistic images of the environment surrounding the black holes, such that many theories can be tested, and new ones will probably rise. The behavior of such enigmatic entities will be further elucidated, and our hypothesis of all BH spinning could be supported.

By: Inés Urdaneta, RSF research scientist

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