Black Holes

Black Holes

Current reporting on the mass monsters in the universe and in the centre of our Milky Way

Black holes do not consist of matter, although they have a large mass. Therefore, until recently, they could not be observed directly, but only through the effect of their gravity on the environment: They bend space and time and have an almost irresistible attraction. The history of these exotic objects is long, as the first ideas about them appeared more than 230 years ago. But it was only in more recent times that the study of black holes really took off. In addition to amazing measurements in the center of our Milky Way, which were rewarded with the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for Andrea Ghez of the University of California and Reinhard Genzel of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, the Event Horizon Telescope plays an important role: The worldwide network of several radio observatories succeeded in obtaining unique images of these cosmic gravity traps.

Deepest look yet into the heart of a quasar

International team observes innermost structure of quasar 3C 273 more

Composition of several individual images. Background: many bright stars and dark clouds; foreground image 1: section with bright star in the centre and other less bright stars around it; foreground image 2: a thin, white ellipse against a black background and a bright dot is on the ellipse; foreground image 3: a dark, almost circular object surrounded by a distorted bright ring.

The finding promises numerous similar discoveries more

A radio telescope opens up new horizons

The European observatory NOEMA reaches full capacity with twelve antennas more

A still image of the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A*, as seen by the Event Horizon Collaboration (EHT), with an artist’s illustration indicating where the modelling of the ALMA data predicts the hot spot to be and its orbit around the black hole.

Researchers discover a hot spot near the black hole Sagittarius A* with the radio telescope ALMA more

An image of the Milky Way`s black hole

Observation with the Event Horizon Telescope improves our understanding of the processes at the galactic centre more

“A wonderful confirmation of our observations”

Reinhard Genzel of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics on the first image of the galactic centre more

This image, taken with the Matisse instrument at the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope Interferometer, shows the inner region of the active galaxy NGC 1068.

Researchers observe the centre of the active galaxy NGC 1068 more

At the heart of a blazar

Researchers observe how a pair of black holes bend the jet in the active galaxy OJ 287 more

Zooming into the galactic centre

Astronomers obtain the deepest and sharpest images to date of the region around the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way more

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Deepest look yet into the heart of a quasar

International team observes innermost structure of quasar 3C 273 more

Composition of several individual images. Background: many bright stars and dark clouds; foreground image 1: section with bright star in the centre and other less bright stars around it; foreground image 2: a thin, white ellipse against a black background and a bright dot is on the ellipse; foreground image 3: a dark, almost circular object surrounded by a distorted bright ring.

The finding promises numerous similar discoveries more

A radio telescope opens up new horizons

The European observatory NOEMA reaches full capacity with twelve antennas more

A still image of the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A*, as seen by the Event Horizon Collaboration (EHT), with an artist’s illustration indicating where the modelling of the ALMA data predicts the hot spot to be and its orbit around the black hole.

Researchers discover a hot spot near the black hole Sagittarius A* with the radio telescope ALMA more

An image of the Milky Way`s black hole

Observation with the Event Horizon Telescope improves our understanding of the processes at the galactic centre more

This image, taken with the Matisse instrument at the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope Interferometer, shows the inner region of the active galaxy NGC 1068.

Researchers observe the centre of the active galaxy NGC 1068 more

At the heart of a blazar

Researchers observe how a pair of black holes bend the jet in the active galaxy OJ 287 more

Zooming into the galactic centre

Astronomers obtain the deepest and sharpest images to date of the region around the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way more

Zoom into the dark heart of Centaurus A

The Event Horizon Telescope takes a close-up of the nearest radio galaxy more

Feast for black holes

Detectors receive gravitational waves from two gravity traps that swallow neutron stars in one piece more

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“A wonderful confirmation of our observations”

Reinhard Genzel of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics on the first image of the galactic centre more

The nebula with the dark band

The active galaxy Centaurus A has made history in radio astronomy more

Scientific highlights 2020

Many publications by Max Planck scientists in 2020 were of great social relevance or met with a great media response. We have selected 13 articles to present you with an overview of some noteworthy research of the year more

The mystery of the dark bodies

The idea that black holes exist dates back to the 18th century more

The backbone of the night

Like a huge spiral, the Milky Way floats in space more

“The galactic centre offers fantastic opportunities”

Interview with Reinhard Genzel on his observation of an effect of the general theory of relativity more

Gravitational waves from merging neutron stars

This cosmic event was also observed in visible light and provides an explanation for gamma-ray bursts more

Three-detector observation of gravitational waves

The cosmic ripples were not only observed by the two Ligo observatories in the USA, but also the Italian detector Virgo more

Gravitational waves spotted for the third time

LIGO observes a signal, which was once again discovered at the Albert Einstein Institute in Hannover more

Twin jets pinpoint the heart of an active galaxy

Twin jets pinpoint the heart of an active galaxy more

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The supermassive giant at the heart of the Milky Way | Interview with Prof. Reinhard Genzel

Interview with Reinhard Genzel, director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) and architect of the 30-year programme that led to the discovery of the Schwarzschild precession around the black hole at the heart of our Milky Way. Genzel describes the general relativity effect observed by his team and how it can be used to study the galactic gravity trap. more

Astrophysics: The cosmos quakes - gravitational waves

Albert Einstein predicted their existence in the last century, but thought it would be impossible to discover them. Astronomers are now looking for them, nevertheless: gravitational waves. more

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