These are exciting times to witness. Since 2017 we have been tracing the amazing international initiative called Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) in the hunt for Black holes in the Universe. Among other studies, the EHT aims at the obtention of the first real image of the accretion disk or event horizon of a Black Hole. The first candidate is the Black hole placed at the center of our galaxy, known as Sagittarius A*, which coincidentally has also been simulated recently.

In the days to come, the ETH will make public the so much expected first image, to be compared to the many simulations to date, which are so well summarized in the article by Michelle Starr, and mainly, to be compared directly to the precise simulation of Sagittarius A*.

For sake of completeness, we recall the image resulting from simulations used for the movie Interstellar, the 2014 Christopher Nolan film depicting a “scientifically accurate” fictional Black hole called Gargantua, based on work dating back to 1978, by astrophysicist Jean Pierre Luminet, in consultation with theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, of Caltech.

Interstellar’s black hole Gargantua. (Paramount Pictures)

Luminet used his mathematical background to perform the first computer simulation of what a black hole might look like, using a 1960s IBM computer, that rendered the landing page image. In his words “the gravitational field curves the light rays near the black hole so much that the rear part of the disk is ‘revealed’”.

“I wanted to explore the strange physics of black holes and propose specific mechanisms that could help to get indirect signatures of their very existence. Also, to pursue the pun, with my name ‘Luminet’ I liked much the idea of how a perfectly non-luminous star can give rise to observable phenomena.” -Luminet

Very interestingly, the terminology used by Luminet to refer to a black hole, is that of a non-luminous star (because stars are massive gravitational objects, just as Black holes). By doing so, he approaches the view of the Holofractographic theory, where luminous stars are in fact, black holes; they have a BH in their center.

By Inés Urdaneta, RSF Research Scientist