Can you find God in a black hole?

This image released Wednesday, April 10, 2019, by Event Horizon Telescope shows a black hole. Scientists revealed the first image ever made of a black hole after assembling data gathered by a network of radio telescopes around the world. (Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration/Maunakea Observatories via AP)This image released Wednesday, April 10, 2019, by Event Horizon Telescope shows a black hole. Scientists revealed the first image ever made of a black hole after assembling data gathered by a network of radio telescopes around the world. (Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration/Maunakea Observatories via AP)

Can you find God in a black hole? Thanks to the image released by the Event Horizon Telescope consortium on Wednesday, April 10, for the first time we have direct proof that a black hole is more than a theoretical construct. It’s a “thing.” So if St. Ignatius was right to inspire us to “find God in all things,” the black hole certainly qualifies.

A more fascinating spiritual analogy, however, may be to recognize that a black hole is a perfect example of something we’ve believed in even though we cannot see it or touch it. Even the new image released by the Event Horizon Telescope doesn’t show the black hole itself. It shows the shadow of the black hole, where powerful electromagnetic radiation, emitted by hot plasma swirling ever more energetically around something big and massive at the center of the M87 galaxy, suddenly has had that radiation cut to zero at a discrete boundary. And that boundary corresponds exactly to where our black hole theory suggested light would suddenly no longer escape.

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A black hole is a perfect example of something we’ve believed in even though we cannot see it or touch it.

That boundary, theoretical up to now, had been dubbed the “event horizon” (hence the name of the “telescope”—actually a collection of radio telescopes spread across the globe) since any event that occurred inside that boundary would be as cut off from our vision as the way the setting sun disappears when it drops below our own horizon. The source of that event horizon, like the sun gone down, is certainly there; but its light is forever trapped by its gravity. We don’t see the black hole, we see its shadow.

This is just the first of what is hoped to be many such images of many such black holes. The data has already been taken for the black hole that we know sits in the center of our own Milky Way galaxy. The data from M87 was reduced first, because it was the clearest and easiest to work with. In the words of one of project scientists, Mr. Heino Falcke, M87’s black hole is big and slow, like a hibernating bear, while the smaller but closer black hole in our own galaxy is as active as a toddler; trying to combine images from many telescopes taken over a few hours is more challenging.

These images tell us, first of all, that there really is something there in the center of these galaxies. What we have been attributing to a black hole most probably is in fact a black hole, not the artifact of some peculiar, unknown theory of gravity.

This April 4, 2019, photo, provided by Maunakea Observatories shows the Submillimeter Array, part of the Event Horizon Telescope network on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Scientists on Wednesday, April 10, revealed the first image ever made of a black hole using these telescopes. (Maunakea Observatories via AP)
This April 4, 2019, photo, provided by Maunakea Observatories shows the Submillimeter Array, part of the Event Horizon Telescope network on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Scientists on Wednesday, April 10, revealed the first image ever made of a black hole using these telescopes. (Maunakea Observatories via AP)

Moreover, the thing whose shadow we have seen exactly matches what Albert Einstein’s 1915 theory of general relativity predicts. Plenty of other theorists have tried to outdo Einstein with exotic ideas, but so far none of them fit all our observations of how the universe works as well as Einstein did. In fact, the recent discovery of gravitational wave events by another new technological feat, the LIGO experiment, complements this Event Horizon Telescope result perfectly.

And further observations hold the promise that we will soon not only be able to say that a black hole exists but even describe its properties. From the image just released we have learned that the M87 black hole is spinning clockwise, the way that our Earth would be seen to rotate from looking down onto the South Pole; we can say that we are pretty much looking at the “south pole” of the black hole. If the next black hole we see is oriented differently, so that we can look at its equator and not its pole, then we can try to see if its shadow is “flattened” or bulging at its equator. Measuring the size of that bulge can tell us if the mass inside the black hole is evenly distributed or concentrated into a denser core. The black hole is not just a mysterious point of mass but a thing with a structure that we can begin to deduce.

All of that is for the future. For now, it is enough to marvel at that stark shadow in the ring of fire imaged by the Event Horizon Telescope. Black holes are real. Exotic, strange, unexpected, well outside of our mundane experience; and yet as real as the dirt under our feet, and fundamental to how our own galaxy (and our own solar system) was made possible.

Yeah, I think you can find God there.

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J Cosgrove
1 month 2 weeks ago

Most certainly!
The fine tuning of the universe of which black holes are part point to a creator of massive intelligence.
How many of you know that our sun sits by itself off one of the spiral arms of our galaxy about two thirds out from the center. It is at a place where we can observe the rest of the galaxy and the universe. Most suns in the Milky Way would not be able to do that.

Robin Smith
1 month 2 weeks ago

Theists shouldn't talk science unless they double check their facts & C&P a citation. "Most suns...???"

J Cosgrove
1 month 1 week ago

I love science. Interesting that you challenge me on one ancillary aspect of my comment. Not the earth’s location in the galaxy or the fine tuning of the universe or the creator of massive intelligence. Just that most stars would not be so optimally placed (between two of spiral arms, Perseus and Sagittarius). If the earth was not there our view of the universe would be very obscured. Look up privileged planet to see the thousands of special things about earth.

J Cosgrove
1 month 1 week ago

Atheism is so easy to debunk. Atheists depend on ignorance of science to support their views. However, science destroys atheism. It is possible to be agnostic about the nature of the creator but not to deny the existence of such an intelligence.

Phillip Stone
1 month 1 week ago

Robin Smith, catch up!
Theists, and in particular Christians, were the first real scientists. Are you so behind the times that you have not yet learned that the Old Testament was thousands of years ahead of science in describing the fact that all that is, was made only a certain measurable time ago.
Atheist scientist relied upon the stupid idea that the universe was eternal and hated the discovery of the Big Bang.
Are you unaware of the mounting body of evidence that the only bit of Darwin's idea is the bit that mankind uses to breed dogs from wolves and different horses for different tasks?
Are you unaware of the fine tuning of the universe that it must be just so within an incredibly small tolerance in more than one hundred parameters to even exist to support life? That the multiverse is as imaginary as the winged donkey ridden by the fabled Mohammad?
Never come across irreducible complexity?

Yes, most suns!

Todd Witherell
1 month 2 weeks ago

As Mr. Spock might say: Fascinating.

Live long and prosper, Br. Guy.

Todd Witherell
1 month 2 weeks ago

As Mr. Spock might say: Fascinating.

Live long and prosper, Br. Guy.

James Ledford
1 month 2 weeks ago

Also, They just turned LIGO back on after some upgrades and it promptly detected the collision of black holes out there, at a rate of 1/week.. It seems Jesus described black holes and their collision accurately in Matt {24:29-31} when he answered the folks about the signs of the end of times. LIGO effectively gives us a new sense allowing us to sense the gravity shock waves from black holes colliding... or "heavens shaken" says Jesus. The four dimensions of space time... or "four winds" in the bible, reverberate... "with a great sound of a trumpet, from one end of heaven to the other" as he says. Of course, black holes are formed by "the stars falling from heaven" and "suns be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light". Also interesting is that when black holes form, information of all that fell in is conserved on the skin of black hole (scientists call it the event horizon of the black hole). Incredibly JC describes this all in the same passage: "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away." Matt {24:29-31}.

Lisa M
1 month 1 week ago

Pretty amazing, from a non scientific perspective as well. I'm still trying to figure out how I can have a son studying astrophysics.......this is way over my head. Excuse the pun.

J Cosgrove
1 month 1 week ago

Watch the Privileged Planet youtube series. First of 12 videos is here http://bit.ly/2IqtKUx

J Cosgrove
1 month 1 week ago

Excuse the pun

I have two t-shirts, one relative to the topic. It says "Never trust an atom, they make up everything" and another which says "It's hard to explain puns to a kleptomaniac, they take everything literally "

Lisa M
1 month 1 week ago

J-Thank you for the link, and the puns!!!

E.Patrick Mosman
1 month 1 week ago

The further confirmation of the existence of black holes adds a second scenario,sucked into a black hole, to the end of the earth,the first being the sun expands into a red giant during the throes of death vaporizing the Earth. Both endings are predicted for millions of years in the future but mankind has the
the ability to bring an end sooner rather than later through its own arrogant stupidity.

J Cosgrove
1 month 1 week ago

Everyone should read a one page short science fiction story by Isaac Asimov called "Silly Asses." http://bit.ly/2uZUS55

Vincent Couling
1 month 1 week ago

Indeed ... silly asses! Thanks for the link ... elsewhere Asimov said "The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom."

Deplorable Me
1 month 1 week ago

If Catholic parishioners can find God in the Black Hole that is the Catholic church (and they do, despite the attempts by the clergy to obscure Him), He can be found anywhere.

Jammy Lalia
1 month 1 week ago

the theory of black hole is so fascinating. Finding a God there is a bit out of the context statement http://calendarletters.com/

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