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Black Hole Mystery Solved With Most Detailed Simulation Ever


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The accretion disk (in red) aligns along the equatorial plane of the black hole (white circle).

Researchers used a supercomputer and custom-written code to generate the "most detailed" black hole simulation to date.

Credit: Sasha Tchekhovskoy/Northwestern University, Matthew Liska/University of Amsterdam

An international team of researchers used a supercomputer and custom-written code to generate the "most detailed" black hole simulation yet, to prove a long-held theory about the Bardeen-Petterson effect.

The theory said the innermost region of a spinning black hole eventually would line up with its equatorial plane.

The team utilized graphical processing units to develop the code for the simulation, then employed the U.S. National Science Foundation's 15-petabyte Blue Waters supercomputer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to run it.

The experiment demonstrated that scientists could simulate a more realistic black hole, accounting for magnetic fields within the accretion disk.

Rebecca Nealon at the U.K.'s University of Leicester said, "The unique aspect of these simulations is their treatment of the magnetic fields, general relativistic effects, and a cooling function at the same time."

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