“Fifty years ago, when astrophysicists starting 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,” said Roger Blandford, a co-author of the paper who is the Luke Blossom Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences and Stanford and SLAC professor of physics and particle physics.
The original motivation behind this research was to learn more about a mysterious feature of certain black holes, called a corona. Material falling into a supermassive black hole powers the brightest continuous sources of light in the universe, and as it does so, forms a corona around the black hole. This light — which is X-ray light — can be analyzed to map and characterize a black hole. […] As Wilkins took a closer look to investigate the origin of the flares, he saw a series of smaller flashes. These, the researchers determined, are the same X-ray flares but reflected from the back of the disk — a first glimpse at the far side of a black hole. […] The mission to characterize and understand coronas continues and will require more observation.
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