NASA’s virtual journey to the event horizon of a supermassive black hole

It took a supercomputer five days to generate the video of this simulation

Black holes are the most mysterious objects in the universe. The question of what will be behind them will never be answered.

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However, a few days ago NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center published two videos in which it takes a virtual trip to the event horizon of a supermassive black hole, that is, with a mass that is equivalent to millions or trillions of times that of the Sun. In this case, the destination is a supermassive black hole with a mass of 4.3 million times the mass of the Sunthe equivalent of the black hole black that is in the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way.

Tea event horizon is that border where space and time begins to distort due to the brutal gravitational force of the black hole. Beyond that, all we would see would be an absolutely black spacesince the light from outside would no longer be able to reach us. The first video is in 360º format:

The second video, published the same day, explains what we see in the firstshowing us the position of the camera with respect to the black hole and indicating what the lines we see around it are:

NASA has explained that this video begins with a camera located 640 million kilometers from the supermassive black hole: “In real time, the camera takes about 3 hours to fall to the event horizon, executing almost two complete 30-minute orbits along the way. But to anyone observing from afar, it would never quite get there. As space-time becomes ever more distorted closer to the horizon, the image of the camera would slow and then seem to freeze just shy of it.”

In this video, the camera would end up destroyed a few microseconds before reaching the singularitya one-dimensional point at which the laws of physics as we know them stop operating. Once the camera crosses the horizon, its destruction by spaghettification is just 12.8 seconds awaysays Jeremy Schnittman, an astrophysicist at the Goddard Space Flight Center. from NASA. From the event horizon to the singularity there would be a distance of about 128,000 kilometers.


NASA has explained that to carry out this simulation, “Schnittman teamed up with fellow Goddard scientist Brian Powell and used the Discover supercomputer at the NASA Center for Climate Simulation. The project generated about 10 terabytes of data — equivalent to roughly half of the estimated text content in the Library of Congress — and took about 5 days running on just 0.3% of Discover’s 129,000 processors. The same feat would take more than a decade on a typical laptop.”



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