Simulating the heart of a black hole
As they prepare to take the first ever picture of a black hole's event horizon, astronomers are modelling the flows of material that roil around this mysterious object.
In early 2017, a global network of nine radio telescopes will turn its attention to Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.
Using a specific wavelength of radio waves, the Event Horizon Telescope team has calculated that they will be able to see right down to the event horizon - the spherical boundary that marks the "point of no return" for matter being sucked inwards.
In planning the project, scientists have run more than a million simulations of what happens to the matter and light as it swirls about at this frontier of the observable world.
Videos courtesy of Chi-kwan Chan, Dimitrios Psaltis and Feryal Ozel
08 Jan 2016