A claim of detecting a black hole's 'photon ring' is disputed by physicists.

A claim of detecting a black hole's 'photon ring' is disputed by physicists.

In the image of a black hole that was released last week, there appears to be a bright ring surrounding the dark center. This ring

A team of scientists have found what they say is a photon ring, a thin halo of light around the supermassive black hole in the galaxy M87. If true, this discovery would provide a new way of studying the black hole's intense gravity. However, not all scientists are convinced and further research is needed.

The EHT scientists used a computer simulation to model the black hole’s gravity and the behavior of photons around it. The researchers found that when they increased the resolution of their simulation — that is, when they made the simulation’s grid of pixels finer — the ring became thinner and sharper. The new image, which the team presented at a virtual meeting of the American Astronomical Society on April 5, shows a black hole that

If you want to understand how Einstein's theory of general relativity works, there's no better way than to study a black hole. These ultra-dense objects are so massive that their gravity warps spacetime around them, creating a deep well that not even light can escape. But black holes are also notoriously elusive. Because they don't emit any light of

When it comes to capturing images of black holes, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) isn't your standard point-and-shoot camera. Researchers have to stitch together data from the EHT's array of observatories around the globe, using various computational techniques to reconstruct an image. Now, a team of researchers led by Avery Broderick of the University of Waterloo in Canada has used data from the E

But that method has drawn harsh criticism. “The claim of a photon ring detection is preposterous,” says physicist Sam Gralla of the University of Arizona in

The photon ring is a key feature of black holes that allows us to study them in greater detail. However, recent observations have shown that the ring is brighter than expected, emitting around 60 percent of the light in the image. This is a surprising result, as predictions had suggested that the ring should only be responsible for around 20 percent of the light.

Some of the light from the main glow gets lumped in with the photon ring, which is why the ring appears brighter than expected. This effect was seen in simulated data as well as in the data from the Broderick team's observations.

But that blend of purported photon ring light with other light doesn't make for a very convincing detection, critics say. "If you want to claim that you've seen a photon ring, I think you have to do a better job than this," says astrophysicist Dan Marrone of the University of Arizona, a member of the EHT collaboration who was not a co

The new result doesn't necessarily mean that an added thin ring is associated with the photon ring. It just suggests that it gives a better match to the data. So the question remains of whether scientists are seeing a photon ring at all, or just picking out an unrelated structure in the image.

In a recent blog post, astrophysicist Nathan Broderick argues that the recently discovered "photon ring" around the black hole at the center of the Milky Way is, in fact

In a recent study, Broderick and colleagues found evidence for a photon ring around the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. However, in a similar, independent analysis, Gralla and physicist Will Lockhart find no evidence for a photon ring. Their analysis differed from Broderick

Some scientists have proposed adding telescopes in space to the Event Horizon Telescope's (EHT) network of observatories in order to more convincingly detect the photon ring. The photon ring is an image of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy that

If there was a detection of a photon ring, Lupsasca says, it would be one of the most important discoveries in physics in recent years.

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