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Black Hole Photo Shows Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’ Wasn’t So Far Off From the Real Thing

In a groundbreaking space discovery, astronomers have captured the first image of a black hole.

Editorial use only. HANDOUT /NO SALESMandatory Credit: Photo by EVENT HORIZON TELESCOPE COLLABORATION/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (10196787a)An undated handout photo made available by Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration on 10 April 2019 showing a bright ring formed as light bends in the intense gravity around a black hole that is 6.5 billion times more massive than the Sun. Scientists have obtained the first image of a black hole, using Event Horizon Telescope observations of the center of the galaxy M87. This long-sought image provides the strongest evidence to date for the existence of supermassive black holes and opens a new window onto the study of black holes, their event horizons, and gravity.Astronomers capture first image of a Black Hole, Space, - - 10 Apr 2019

Astronomers capture first image of a Black Hole.

EVENT HORIZON TELESCOPE COLLABORATION/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Back when Warner Bros. released Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar,” the film’s scientific accuracy was championed by the cast and crew. Nolan wanted to ensure that “Interstellar” adhered as closely as possible to Real Science when it came to depicting wormholes and black holes, so he hired Caltech theoretical physicist Kip Thorne as an executive producer and scientific consultant on the movie. Thorne worked closely with the VFX team to nail the look of the film’s black hole, named Gargantua.

With the recent groundbreaking release of the first real black hole photo, it appears Thorne and the “Interstellar” team favorably predicted the the world’s first look at the space phenomena. Astronomers captured the first image of a real black hole and made the image public on April 10.

The photograph shows a red-orange circle made out of dust and gas that forms the outline to the black hole, which is located 55 million light years away from Earth in the Messier 87 galaxy. The “Interstellar” black hole was created using a new CGI rendering software that was based on theoretical equations provided by Thorne and a group of researchers. The new technology led Thorne to discover information about the gravitational lensing and accretion disks surrounding black holes.

The “Interstellar” black hole was also presented as a sphere and not two-dimensional, complete with disks of dust and gas that formed ring shapes. It appears Nolan’s black hole correctly portrayed the orange dust and gas effect of a real black hole. In Thorne’s companion book “The Science of Interstellar,” he wrote the accretion disk of a black hole would be able to emit light because it is “anemic and at low temperature—about the temperature of the surface of the sun.”

The black hole in the real photo is unseeable, but the disk pops in a similar fashion to what “Interstellar” portrayed. Claire Denis’ “High Life,” now playing in theaters, also depicts a black hole in somewhat similar fashion to Nolan’s. Compare and contrast the real black hole to Nolan and Denis’ films in the photos below.

Editorial use only. HANDOUT /NO SALESMandatory Credit: Photo by EVENT HORIZON TELESCOPE COLLABORATION/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock (10196787a) An undated handout photo made available by Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration on 10 April 2019 showing a bright ring formed as light bends in the intense gravity around a black hole that is 6.5 billion times more massive than the Sun. Scientists have obtained the first image of a black hole, using Event Horizon Telescope observations of the center of the galaxy M87. This long-sought image provides the strongest evidence to date for the existence of supermassive black holes and opens a new window onto the study of black holes, their event horizons, and gravity. Astronomers capture first image of a Black Hole, Space, - - 10 Apr 2019

Real Black Hole

EVENT HORIZON TELESCOPE COLLABORATION/HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

"Interstellar" Black Hole

“Interstellar” Black Hole

Warner Bros.

"Interstellar" Black Hole

“Interstellar” Black Hole

Warner Bros.

"High Life" Black Hole

“High Life” Black Hole

A24

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