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The Science and Art of Black Hole Images

Alex Lupsasca (Vanderbilt); Pamela Davis Kivelson (Stanford)

Event Details:

Tuesday, October 11, 2022
3:30pm - 4:30pm PDT


Hewlett Teaching Center, Rm. 200

Alex Lupsasca, Theoretical Physicist, Vanderbilt University
The Black Hole Photon Ring  What does a black hole look like? The first images of the supermassive black hole M87* display a bright ring encircling the event horizon, which appears as a dark patch in its surrounding emission. But Einstein's theory of general relativity predicts that within this image there also lies a thin "photon ring" consisting of multiple mirror images of the main emission. These images arise from photons that orbited around the black hole multiple times, probing the warped space-time geometry just outside its horizon. The photon ring carries an imprint of the strong gravity in this region and encodes fundamental properties of the black hole. A measurement of this predicted (but not yet observed) ring could provide a precise test of general relativity and will be the target of a NASA mission proposed to fly within the next decade.

Pamela Davis Kivelson, QFARM Artist in Residence, Stanford University
The Art of Black Holes  A black hole distorts, stretches, and tears apart matter in its neighborhood – including stars. The underlying mechanism is the strong tidal forces exerted by the gravitational field of the black hole. Using Pamela Davis Kivelson’s artwork as input, Professor Baio Lian (Princeton) and Research scientist Ruizhu Chen (Stanford ) calculated the paths of light rays from these works as they encounter a black hole and thereby created images of the ways in which photographs and paintings of astronomical size would get transformed, lose information, break apart, and disintegrate in the vicinity of a black hole. Davis Kivelson will discuss the iterative transformative creative process that brought the Art of Black Holes to life.

Light refreshments served in Varian lobby at 3:15 p.m. Art Exhibit opening in PAB lobby from 4:30-6:30pm

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