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NASA plunges into a black hole with this supercomputer simulation

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What would it look like to plunge into a supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy? Goddard scientists visualized this hypothetical journey in the video above with NASA’s Discover supercomputing cluster. Annotations for each milestone attempt to illuminate “the bizarre effects of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.”

“‘People often ask about this, and simulating these difficult-to-imagine processes helps me connect the mathematics of relativity to actual consequences in the real universe,’ said Jeremy Schnittman, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland…”

the annotated plunge

“To create the visualizations, Schnittman teamed up with fellow Goddard scientist Brian Powell and used the Discover supercomputer at the NASA Center for Climate Simulation. The project generated about 10 terabytes of data β€” equivalent to roughly half of the estimated text content in the Library of Congress β€” and took about 5 days running on just 0.3% of Discover’s 129,000 processors.”

The text emphasizes that “the same feat would take more than a decade on a typical laptop.”

only a moment of the plunge
The team created multiple journeys, including a slingshot back out of the phenomenon prior to reaching the event horizon, the complete plunge above, and 360-degree immersive videos of both sci-fi scenarios.

See the one-minute, 360-degree, one-way trip below.

“The simulated black hole’s event horizon spans about 16 million miles (25 million kilometers), or about 17% of the distance from Earth to the Sun. A flat, swirling cloud of hot, glowing gas called an accretion disk surrounds it and serves as a visual reference during the fall. So do glowing structures called photon rings, which form closer to the black hole from light that has orbited it one or more times. A backdrop of the starry sky as seen from Earth completes the scene.”

Watch these related videos next:
β€’Β The first image of a black hole: A three minute guide
β€’Β What’s inside a black hole?
β€’ Why every picture of a black hole is an illustration – Vox
β€’ What are the largest black holes in the universe?

Bonus: The Big Bounce, the Big Bulk, and the Big Black Hole Bang.

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