Scientists have finally seen the backside of a black hole and in doing so, they’ve proved that a 1915 theory posited by Albert Einstein was correct.
Einstein’s 1915 Theory of General Relativity predicted that the gravitational pull of black holes is so large that black holes warp the fabric of space, according to The Telegraph. His theory posited that this extremely massive gravitational pull was so massive that it twists magnetic fields and bends lightwaves near black holes.
As reported by The Telegraph, a new Nature report proves Einstein’s theory correct.
“Fifty years ago, when astrophysicists started speculating about how the magnetic field might behave close to a black hole, they had no idea that one day we might have the techniques to observe this directly and see Einstein’s general theory of relativity in action,” Standford University professor and research report co-author, Roger Blandford, said.
Einstein’s theory stated that because of how black holes warp the space fabric around them, it should be possible to see light waves ejected out of a black hole’s backside as the twisted magnetic fields act as a mirror for the black hole. This theory was accepted by experts, according to The Telegraph, but it was never technically proven as it was always deemed an unobservable phenomenon.
NASA Black Hole Gallery
As time has progressed, though, the mystery around black holes has grown more clear thanks to modern telescopes and the like. That’s how Nature report author Dan Wilkins, a Standford University astrophysicist, and Blandford, were finally able to prove Einstein’s theory correct, more than 100 years later.
The team used a special high-power X-ray telescope to look at and study a black hole 800 million light-years away at the center of a galaxy far, far away and what they discovered was that the light, in the form of X-rays, was being ejected out of the black hole’s backside.
The Telegraph notes that black holes are born when massive stars explode into a supernova and collapse in on themselves. This creates a space material so dense and so black that it essentially swallows up everything around it, hence why they’re called black holes.
Following that line of thinking, it should be theoretically impossible to see light on the other side of a black hole, but we now know that’s not the case thanks to Wilkins, Blandford, and their team. The team was studying how black holes rip atoms and electrons apart, according to The Telegraph, and the X-rays created as a result.
When they observed the data they had collected, they discovered that the black hole they were studying was shooting X-rays directly at earth. That’s totally normal. What wasn’t normal was that the team also saw X-rays being shot out in the exact opposite direction as reflections, thanks to the black hole’s twisted magnetic field.
This proves that Einstein’s theory is correct. Black holes warp space fabric so much that their magnetic fields are able to mirror light waves shot out of a black hole’s far side — without that mirror effect, scientists wouldn’t be able to actually observe those far-side light waves, despite knowing them to be there.
Gorgeous Photos of Earth from Space
If only Einstein knew that his theory would be proven correct just 66 years after his death.
For more about black holes, read this story about how humans can safely fall into a black hole in one very particular way, and then check out this new photo of a black hole and its surrounding magnetic fields. Read about how a black hole in the Milky Way seemingly changed the color of nearby stars after that.
Wesley LeBlanc is a freelance news writer, guide maker, and science guru for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @LeBlancWes.