Listen: Dolan Harvard, Harvard Smithsonian Center And Zale Professor Of Astrophysics discussed on Live From Here with Chris Thile
"The first ever image captured a supermassive black hole. Joining me this. How are two members of the event? Horizon. Telescope team ship Dolan Harvard research fellow at the Harvard Smithsonian center for Astro physics in Cambridge and frail Zale professor of astrophysics in the department of strana me at the university of Arizona, and astronomers astrophysicists are celebrating this first ever black hole image and yet more proof of Einstein's theory of general relativity. But even as the image confirms our ideas about gravity, it also raises new questions about galaxy formation and quantum physics that scientists want answers to so now that we can see this super massive black hole. What more can we discover about it? Help us answer. Some of those what's next questions like to bring in my next guest. Surely, I love shack. La undo is a professor of physics at Canada research chair at the university of monthly owned muck of science Friday. Thank you. It's great to be here. Now, I know that you were not part of the event horizon team. So you've got to see the image along with the rest of us for the first time this week was it what you were expecting to see. It was incredible. I have to say I was surprised at how clear the image was it's it's just amazing to be able to see for the first time a black hole. And for me. This is so important because I've been studying these objects for the past ten years, and my my goal has been really understand what supermassive black holes Tzu on the scale of galaxies. What is their role in like cosmological context? But I've never actually seen a black hole though. I've studied their impact for the last ten years. So it was really tremendous for me. And it's I'm going to remember this this time for. Very for the rest of my career. I think we're all going to remember it. And I wanna talk about something very interesting that you just brought up, and that is the fact that there are black holes in so many centers of galaxies. Do we know why that is that is very good question? And I I would say that we're still trying to understand how black holes forum in the first place, especially supermassive black holes. How they grow with time. Do they grow with their galaxies or not it's still a very open question? And I'm sure that we're going to get some answers in the next couple of years, but the the important part is you have to remember that we're pretty sure that every single galaxy now at least a massive galaxies has one of these supermassive black holes at center, but the key point is that the although very massive the super massive black hole is very compact. In fact, it's about a billion times smaller than the actual size of the galaxy. And what we're realizing is that although it's so small it's such an. A powerful incredible object that it can have an impact on the scale of the galaxy. And it does end up reshaping completely the properties of the galaxy mighty explain I mean, we talk about dark energy might there be heaven found what it is yet and dark matter, and we we've talked about how dark matter helped shape keeps the shape in the form of a galaxy together. Could there be something going on between the black hole in the center and the dark matter that we don't know yet? So there has been research. So so scientists at Lisa several years ago, try to determine is the dark matter that's present in galaxy that we don't see could it be at least partially caused by black holes that are hidden in the galaxy. And that are not actively feeding and therefore they're black, and we can't see them. And so so they do have some contribution. But it appears to be very minor. And so dark matter still seems to be a very mysterious substance that we don't know actually what it is shop. You also took data on the black hole at the center of our galaxy said you Terry is a star. What what when are we going to see that pitcher? Oh, well, you know, we we're pretty tight lipped I think the other guests can attest to that. I talked to a lot of people, and they said we had no idea what you were going to show and getting two hundred people not to spill the beans was really quite a feat in and of itself, but I can say that we did take data on sanitary star. That's the four million solar mass black hole in the center of argh Aleksey the Milky Way. And by contrast, it's a very timid eater. So it's eating about ten thousand or one hundred thousand times less than the black hole in the center of MED seven. So we wouldn't see it. If it was at the distance of image seven that said, we are very excited to work on those data because for though for that source. We know the distance precisely from infrared work that shows stars orbiting the black hole, and we also know the distance as well as the mass. So we could do some better testing Feinstein if we were to see. A ring around that source. If I may add to that a little bit Shep talked about how it's more timid eater and its mass is a lot smaller the timescale with which things happen around the block called depends on its mass, the smaller, the mass the more the more things happened the more things change rapidly. So just based on its mass. We knew that it was going to be more of a problem child. It was it's just more turbulent. And we we need special imaging techniques to deal with that variability. So having said that of course, we've been working on it. And we will look forward to sharing the results whenever we have them. Do we expect do these black hole? Start out small gobble up, you know, kinds of stuff around it and then grow either more dancer larger insights. Yeah. So this connects back to your conversation with Julie just a few minutes ago, we now know of locals and the centers of only by galaxies most galaxies that we can see, and we think based on their mass that these black holes must have started forming very honor in the universe in the age of the universe. So we're really looking at a coming of age story together between the galaxies themselves and the black holes at their centers. We think they started small, but what is small is it a hundred times the mass of our sun is at ten thousand times the mass of our sun. There are different scenarios in which we consider forming these baby supermassive black holes that we call seeds, and we don't have any direct evidence as far as which one of these happening and how rapidly these black holes grow in the early universe. But one thing is for sure even when they're small they're having an impact on the on their host galaxies. And they're really throughout the cause make time they're growing together. Maybe had some. So what's also intriguing about this is we now have evidence that very very massive black holes. We're talking about the almost a size of the black hole at the center of eighty-seven. So billions of times of her son. We have evidence at these black holes have existed for a very long time. And they they seem to this evening only after a couple hundred million years after the big bang. So they seem to form very quickly. And the question is how how can they do this? And we're still trying to answer that question. Absolutely something image doesn't show that what that we sort of touched on. Julia. I wanna get more into that are the black holes jets. Can you explain a bit more? Why they're there what they're doing? So that's a great question. I I would say that we still don't fully understand how these structures form, but we do know is that black holes can form them. They seem to to be able. To produce these very powerful jets of high energy particles. And what's incredible about them is that they're propagating to just incredible this senses? So just to remind you black holes are very compact there about a billion times smaller than the size of their galaxy"