NASA Shows Video of 2 Black Holes Dance Around, Bend Light Off Each Other

NASA launched a video Thursday that shows two massive black holes dancing around each other in space and distorting themselves into curved, mesmerizing colors. The two black holes regain their shapes, and their lone colors, and drift apart before strong gravitational forces slam them back together again into more multicolor, Slinky-like shapes before reforming again.


The visualization by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was created into a movie to show what two black hole disks could create should it happen in space. For reference, the two objects shown in the visualization are millions times bigger than Earth. One of the objects is 200 times larger than the sun while the other is 100 larger than the sun.

Jeremy Schnittman, an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, created this visual. He believes these binary systems stay together for "millions of years."


"We're seeing two supermassive black holes, a larger one with 200 million solar masses and a smaller companion weighing half as much," Schnittman said. "These are the kinds of black hole binary systems where we think both members could maintain accretion disks lasting millions of years."


NASA released a video of a depiction of two massive black holes colliding, which could give the space organization an inner-look at ripple effects of the black holes through the light and gases they emit. PHOTO SCREENSHOT OF NASA VIDEO


The views are seen from an orbital plane, and the views show the humping, sequencing arc-like shapes that a pair of massive black holes can make when they gravitate toward each other.


"These distortions play out as light from both disks navigates the tangled fabric of space and time near the black holes," NASA stated on its website.


It goes on to say that accretion disks create a brilliant display of red, orange and blue colors while creating higher temperatures, reflecting reality from the crashing gases.


"Hotter gas gives off light closer to the blue end of the spectrum, and material orbiting smaller black holes experiences stronger gravitational effects that produce higher temperatures," the NASA statement read. "For these masses, both accretion disks would actually emit most of their light in the UV, with the blue disk reaching a slightly higher temperature."


The disks in the video devolve back into their own shapes and orbits, and then slam into each other again to create the swerving, hump-like arcs again before going back into their own, separate orbits.


"A striking aspect of this new visualization is the self-similar nature of the images produced by gravitational lensing," Schnittman said. "Zooming into each black hole reveals multiple, increasingly distorted images of its partner."

Schnittman said he computed paths of light rays from the disks as they shuffled through the "warped space-time around the black holes," according to NASA.


Schnittman depicted these two supermassive black holes to spiral in unity, and astronomers predict they'll be able to see such a thing happen in the near future, which would allow them the opportunity to study the gravitational waves of these ripples.

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