Astronomers ask for help in detecting hidden black holes

Black holes are among the most dizzying objects in the Universe. They are so dense that everything that passes by their event horizon, even light, cannot escape from their gravitational “captivity”. Hence, they got their name, because the black hole is impossible to see. Fortunately for researchers, there is heated matter in the form of dust and gas around many black holes. When this material falls into a black hole, it can emit flashes of X-ray radiation, allowing scientists to determine the location of the black hole.

Supermassive black hole (simulation). Source: NASA

But this does not apply to every black hole. Some black holes have no surrounding material, meaning they don’t emit X-rays, so they are much harder to find. Therefore, the public scientific project invites enthusiasts to help scientists in finding these hidden objects.

A project called Black Hole Hunters is looking for clues about the location of black holes left as a result of their enormous gravity. Black holes are so dense, they have very strong gravity, which even distorts space-time. They distort the light coming from the stars behind them, making this light brighter for a short time.

The public is invited to carefully look for these peaks in the brightness of stars in these graphs. All participants will be provided with a brief instruction that will explain exactly what to look for on the graphs collected during 10-year measurements during the SuperWASP project study to identify exoplanets.

“Finding hidden black holes is a great task for science. Therefore, it is excellent that everyone who has access to the Internet will be able to take part in a scientific project, regardless of how well they know astronomy. We invite everyone,” explains project manager Adam McMaster.

Earlier, NASA asked for help with the search for Martian clouds.

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