Confirming Einstein, light is detected behind a black hole for the first time

For the first time, a light was detected behind a black hole. Predicted by Albert Einstein's Theory of General Relativity, the scenario was confirmed by a team led by astrophysicist Dan Wilkins of Stanford University in the United States. The results were published on Wednesday (28), in the scientific journal Nature.

It all started when scientists noticed an intriguing pattern in a series of unprecedented X-ray flares, which came from a black hole more massive than our Sun, 800 million light-years away from us. But there was something even more unexpected in this observation: additional flashes that were smaller and of "colors" different from the X-ray flashes.

The team argues that the additional luminous echoes are X-rays reflected behind the black hole. This, however, may seem absurd, since black holes are regions in space-time where the lure of gravity is so powerful that not even light can escape its reach.

Even so, there is a plausible explanation for the strange luminosity. "The reason we can see this is because that black hole is distorting space, bending light and twisting the magnetic fields around it," Wilkins said in a statement.

Astrônomos identificaram luz atrás de buraco negro a 800 milhões de anos-luz de distância (Foto: ESA)

Astronomers have identified light behind a black hole 800 million light-years away (Photo: ESA)

Roger Blandford, the co-author of the study, points out that the discovery serves as a confirmation for what Einstein had long theorized. "Fifty years ago, when astrophysicists began speculating about how the magnetic field could behave near a black hole, they had no idea that one day we could have the techniques to observe this directly and see the General Theory of Relativity in action," says the Stanford physics professor.

Pesquisadores observaram chamas brilhantes de emissões de raios-X em um buraco negro supermassivo (Foto: Dan Wilkins)

The team's discovery occurred with the use of the European Space Agency's (ESA) XMM-Newton space telescopes and NASA's NuSTAR. With the equipment, at first, the researchers wanted to learn more about the corona of black holes, a "crown" formed by the gas that falls on these objects, in a process that feeds the brightest light sources in the universe.

The mission to understand these coronas continues and scientists plan to create a 3D map of the black hole's surroundings, according to a statement. In addition, they hope to make further observations with the help of ESA's Athena X-ray observatory, which will be launched into space in 2031.

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