Relativity visualized

Interactive Black Hole Simulation

Corvin Zahn, Ute Kraus, April 01, 2006
Black Hole
Mass: million solar masses

The idea: You are looking out into space observing distant stars and galaxies. Imagine there was a black hole between you and the distant celestial bodies - what would you see?

How to do it: Choose the size of the black hole (below the image). By clicking with the mouse you can place the black hole in front of the background image. The computer simulation now shows the image distorted by light deflection near the black hole.

Try to produce an Einstein ring!

The background picture is a Hubble Space Telescopeexternal link image of a galaxy cluster 2 billion light years away. It shows a section of the sky that is a hundred arc seconds wide.

The black hole is modelled after Sagittarius A*, the black hole in the center of the Milky Way: 4.3 million solar masses, at a distance of 27000 light years. If you choose the smallest possible black hole mass, the simulation shows the image that the Hubble Space Telescope would see if Sagittarius A* was in the line of sight to this galaxy cluster.

More: For more details about light deflection near a black hole see Step by Step into a Black Hole. The "Real" Einstein Ring shows an Einstein ring as small animation.

The background picture shows the galaxy cluster Abell 2218, observed by the Hubble Space Telescopeexternal link (Space Telescope Science Institute).

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Authors: Corvin Zahn, Ute Kraus, Date: April 01, 2006
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