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Physicist build 'Black hole ring' rotates just like in a lab

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

Did you know that the images previously captured by astronomers are not actual photos of black holes themselves, but rather images of the light emitted from the surrounding accretion disk? An accretion disk is a rapidly spinning "ring" of matter located at the outer edge of a black hole.

Recently, a team of physicists from Imperial College London (ICL) in the United Kingdom has successfully replicated the formation of tiny rings in a laboratory setting. They created a model of an accretion disk using plasma, which is a hot, electrically charged gas, positioned just outside the event horizon of a black hole.

In reality, the black hole's accretion disk consists of plasma that has been accelerated by the immense gravitational pull, causing it to spin at extremely high speeds and reach temperatures close to that of light. This rapid spinning generates a centripetal force that prevents the plasma from falling into the black hole, unlike other forms of matter.

The team of ICL physicists recently published a paper on May 12 in the journal Physical Review Letters, detailing their experiment using a plasma collapse device called "MAGPIE" (MegaAmpere Generator for Plasma Implosion Experiments). By directing eight high-speed plasma beams towards each other, they were able to create a ring-like formation resembling the accretion disks found around black holes.


By Updated May 24, 2023 09.25 am TH

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