A Black Hole is Simulated by a NASA Supercomputer

Modern images created by NASA’s supercomputer enable viewers to enter the event horizon, or the point at which the gravitational pull of a black hole becomes overwhelming.

Astrophysicist Jeremy Schnittman of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center produced the graphics.

“People often ask about this [what happens when we fall into a black hole], and simulating these difficult-to-imagine processes helps me connect the mathematics of relativity to actual consequences in the real universe,” Schnittman said.

Schnittman continued, “So I simulated two different scenarios, one where a camera — a stand-in for a daring astronaut — just misses the event horizon and slingshots back out, and one where it crosses the boundary, sealing its fate,”

Supercomputer-based visualization

Schnittman worked with Brian Powell, a fellow Goddard scientist, to produce
Supercomputer-based visualization

Schnittman worked on this 360-degree graphic alongside Brian Powell, another scientist at Goddard. The NASA Center for Climate Simulation’s Discover supercomputer was put to use by them.

According to a NASA announcement, the full simulation procedure took five days and produced a significant amount of data—ten gigabytes. It’s interesting to note that while it utilized only 0.3% of Discover’s 129,000 CPUs, a typical laptop would have needed almost a decade to complete the same task.

According to Schnittman, “If you have the choice, you want to fall into a supermassive black hole. Stellar-mass black holes, which contain up to about 30 solar masses, possess much smaller event horizons and stronger tidal forces, which can rip apart approaching objects before they get to the horizon,”

Spaghettification is the term for the phenomenon where items expand forth like noodles due to the immense tidal forces inside a black hole.

Enormous Horizon of Events

The event horizon of the black hole spans 16 million miles (25 million kilometers) in the scenario. To put things in perspective, this is just 17% of Earth’s distance from the Sun.

A cloud of hot, brilliant gas that is flat and swirls around a black hole is called an accretion disk. As the camera moves towards the black hole, this disk serves as a visual guide.

The film also shows the bright formations known as photon rings, which are visible at closer proximity to the black hole. Light that has circled the black hole one or more times before leaving forms these rings.

Motion of the Camera

The camera is situated roughly 400 million miles (640 million kilometers) distant at the start of the video. and eventually plunges into the cosmic beast.

It takes the camera about three hours to fall to the event horizon of the black hole. During the journey, it completes two full 30-minute spins around the black hole.

The camera and the space-time it is traveling through start to accelerate toward the black hole’s center as soon as they cross the event horizon and enter the black hole. The black hole’s powerful gravitational pull causes this migration towards the core to be unavoidable.

An alleged one-dimensional point called a singularity is located in the heart of the black hole. At this point, the gravitational forces reach an unlimited strength and the known principles of physics disintegrate.

According to Schnittman, “its destruction by spaghettification is just 12.8 seconds away once the camera crosses the horizon.” It is only 79,500 miles (128,000 kilometers) from the horizon to the singularity.