New black hole study proves a 40-year-old theory

A new study has been published that contradicts something that many people believe of black holes. One of the things that most people have heard about the black hole is that nothing can escape its gravitational pull, not even light. While that is true for light and other material in the immediate vicinity of the black hole, a bit further out in the disc of material that surrounds the black hole, some light does escape.The study found that some the light gives in to the gravitational pull the black hole, turns back, and bounces off the disk of material and escapes the pull of the black hole. One scientist on the study says that the team observed light coming from very close to the black hole that is trying to escape but gets pulled back into the black hole like a boomerang. Scientist Riley Connors, the lead author of the study from Caltech, said this phenomenon was something predicted in the 1970s but hadn't been shown until now.

The findings in the study were made possible by investigating archival observations from the defunct Rossi X-Ray Timing Explore Mission that ended in 2012. The researchers looked at the black hole that is orbited by a Sun-like star. The pair is called XTE J1550-564. The black hole feeds off the orbiting star pulling material into the flat structure around it, known as an accretion disk.

The team looked closely at the x-ray light coming from the disk as light that spirals towards the black hole and found an imprint indicating that the light had been bent back towards the disk and reflected off. Scientist Javier Garcia says that the disk is essentially illuminating itself. The scientists said that theorists had predicted what fraction of light would bend back on the disk, and now for the first time, they have confirmed the predictions.