Observing supermassive black holes in virtual reality

  • We present a 360∘ (i.e., 4π steradian) general-relativistic ray-tracing and radiative transfer calculations of accreting supermassive black holes. We perform state-of-the-art three-dimensional general-relativistic magnetohydrodynamical simulations using the BHAC code, subsequently post-processing this data with the radiative transfer code RAPTOR. All relativistic and general-relativistic effects, such as Doppler boosting and gravitational redshift, as well as geometrical effects due to the local gravitational field and the observer’s changing position and state of motion, are therefore calculated self-consistently. Synthetic images at four astronomically-relevant observing frequencies are generated from the perspective of an observer with a full 360∘ view inside the accretion flow, who is advected with the flow as it evolves. As an example we calculated images based on recent best-fit models of observations of Sagittarius A*. These images are combined to generate a complete 360∘ Virtual Reality movie of the surrounding environment of the black hole and its event horizon. Our approach also enables the calculation of the local luminosity received at a given fluid element in the accretion flow, providing important applications in, e.g., radiation feedback calculations onto black hole accretion flows. In addition to scientific applications, the 360∘ Virtual Reality movies we present also represent a new medium through which to interactively communicate black hole physics to a wider audience, serving as a powerful educational tool.

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Author:Jordy Davelaar, Thomas Bronzwaer, Daniel Kok, Ziri Younsi, Monika Moscibrodzka, Heino Falcke
Parent Title (English):Computational Astrophysics and Cosmology
Publisher:Springer international
Place of publication:New York, NY [u. a.]
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2019
Date of first Publication:2018/11/19
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2019/01/24
Tag:Accreting black holes; General relativity; Plasma physics; Radiative transfer; Virtual reality
Issue:Art. 1
Page Number:17
First Page:1
Last Page:17
Open Access: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Institutes:Physik / Physik
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 52 Astronomie / 520 Astronomie und zugeordnete Wissenschaften
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0