Scientists now believe black holes could hold the key to answering the ultimate question: what was there before the big bang? However, researching them is next to impossible.
Black holes are one of the most destructive forces in the universe, capable of tearing a planet apart and swallowing an entire star. Yet scientists now believe they could hold the key to answering the ultimate question: what was there before the big bang?
The trouble is that researching black holes is next to impossible. They are by definition invisible and there is no scientific theory able to explain them. Horizon meets the astronomers and theoretical physicists who, despite these obvious obstacles, are attempting to image a black hole for the very first time and get ever closer to unlocking its mysteries. It is a story that goes into the heart of a black hole and to the very edge of what is thought to be known about the universe.
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Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
Who's Afraid of a Black Hole?
Black holes are nearly impossible to understand or research. However, they could answer many of the universe's biggest questions.
Understanding Black Holes
Very little is known about them, but many scientists choose to study black holes. One believes he's seen one form and develop.
General Theory of Relativity
Einstein's theory has not only predicted the existence of black holes, but also what it would be like to travel into one.
Some theorists have found a problem with Einstein's theory, making the understanding of a black hole even more peculiar.
Finding a Black Hole
A professor spent 10 years developing an infrared telescope that allowed him to see a black hole 25,000 light years away.
Super Massive Black Hole
These types of black hole are so powerful they may actually affect the galaxy in which they are situated.
The study of all physical reality at a minute level is applied to try and understand black holes further. This breaks down however when gravity is introduced into the equation.
The Big Bang
The object found at the heart of a black hole appears to be the very object that started the Big Bang, although scientists are still no closer to understanding either.
Dr Shep Doeleman has hooked up radio telescopes from across America to try and photograph a shadow cast by a black hole; something no one has ever done before.
Will scientists ever be able to produce a complete theory of everything? And if so, how will it come about?
Role Contributor Producer Stephen Cooter Director Stephen Cooter Executive Producer Andrew Cohen
- Tue 3 Nov 2009 22:30