How to Understand the Image of a Black Hole

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We have just seen the first image of a black hole, the supermassive black hole in the galaxy M87 with a mass 6.5 billion times that of our sun. But what is that image really showing us?
This is an awesome paper on the topic by J.P. Luminet:
Image of a spherical black hole with thin accretion disk
Astronomy and Astrophysics, vol. 75, no. 1-2, May 1979, p. 228-235
Using my every day intuition I wondered: will we see the "shadow" of the black hole even if we're looking edge on at the accretion disk? The answer is yes because the black hole warps space-time, so even if we wouldn't normally be able to see the back of the accretion disk, we can in this case because its light is bent up and over the black hole. Similarly we can see light from the bottom of the back of the accretion disk because it's bent under the bottom of the black hole. Plus there are additional images from light that does a half turn around the black hole leading to the inner rings.
What about the black hole "shadow" itself? Well initially I thought it can't be an image of the event horizon because it's so much bigger (2.6 times bigger). But if you trace back the rays, you find that for every point in the shadow, there is a corresponding ray that traces back to the event horizon. So in fact from our one observing location, we see all sides of the event horizon simultaneously! In fact infinitely many of these images, accounting for the virtually infinite number of times a photon can orbit the black hole before falling in. The edge of the shadow is due to the photon sphere - the radius at which light goes around in closed orbits. If a light ray coming in at an oblique angle just skims the photon sphere and then travels on to our telescopes, that is the closest 'impact parameter' possible, and it occurs at sqrt(27)/2*r_s
Huge thanks to:
Prof. Geraint Lewis
University of Sydney ve42.co/gfl
Like him, I'm hoping (predicting?) we'll see some moving images of black holes tomorrow
Prof. Rana Adhikari
Caltech ve42.co/Rana
Riccardo Antonelli - for excellent images of black holes, simulations and ray-tracing code, check out:
The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration
Check out their resources and get your local link for the livestream here: ve42.co/EHT
Special thanks to Patreon supporters:
Donal Botkin, Michael Krugman, Ron Neal, Stan Presolski, Terrance Shepherd, Penward Rhyme
Filming by Raquel Nuno
Animation by Maria Raykova

Published on


Apr 9, 2019




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Comments 14 283
Veritasium 13 days ago
OK, just over an hour to go! This is the link to the Washington DC National Science Foundation livestream: ve42.co/NSFstream Click here for links to other live streams (there are several available in different countries): ve42.co/EHTstream
Tomas Nofziger
Tomas Nofziger 3 days ago
Not images like a snapshot of your mother. You're looking at virtual reality as per algorithms predicated on assumptions, with these assumptions predicated on some facts and plenty of theoretical bias. Astrophysicists haven't even tested the results against other theories regarding what the image(s) represent due to academic consensus thinking-permitted protocol for funding. You might consider another explanation before you justify to the gullible and uneducated public all the monies, grants, endowments and salaries needed to conduct science as it's conducted today, often without experimental evidence. For scientists bent on truth, not glory, look here to consider another point of view: fivid.net/video/video-J4NffTr_GMk.html
Ian Fenn
Ian Fenn 6 days ago
Ev3thing 6 days ago
And you only say that nothing can come out of a black hole because there is no proof that hawking radiation exists?
Incredible World
Incredible World 3 hours ago
Great video! Keep on doing nice content and you'll develop fast! Subscribe to our channel then we'll subscribe to your channel!
Muhammad Akba AK
Muhammad Akba AK 6 hours ago
Just a amazing way to explain in very simplistic way. Excellent work
Uma Maheshwaran
Uma Maheshwaran 7 hours ago
Sir, Is there any possibility of light beam or plasma moves around black hole orbit as like satellites moves around in earth's orbit...???
David Schlievert
David Schlievert 13 hours ago
If ii said ii seized grasped and comprehended your "full" video content ii would think how impossibly funny the pun was but alas such is not the claim ii make. Thanks.
ålesundlili 14 hours ago
parfait ! merci !
Nick Avila
Nick Avila 14 hours ago
Why is there a photon sphere in the first place if light coming in has to be 2.6(sr) to be just outside of the photon sphere?
Nick Avila
Nick Avila 14 hours ago
according to the captions @3:33 the "saying" goes quote-unquote and not quote on quote. I've never realized this and have said quote on quote for my whole life.
Nick Avila
Nick Avila 14 hours ago
I kept hearing secretion disc lmao
Lindsay Kay
Lindsay Kay 15 hours ago
A humongous space-time-candy-floss machine
AG Designs
AG Designs 15 hours ago
the best explanation about black holes likeness I have seen so far ♥
Red 5
Red 5 15 hours ago
Wow, this is quality!! You can tell it so clearly and good!! Really, I understand everything much better now. I like black holes so much, they are so inspiring. Congrats!
Pancho Villa
Pancho Villa 16 hours ago
Thanks for FINALLY depicting the Black Hole as a 3 dimensional object. I didn't think you would be able to pull it off with that 2 dimensional sphere, but by twisting them around, the explanation makes sense. Too often explanations of Black Holes are only 2 dimensional. Thanks for also reminding us that the light rays will be bent.So my only dumb question is this... if the light rays are bent around the event horizon, how do we accurately establish the location of the Black Hole in space relative to our position. Can we correct for the roller coaster ride the light rays took to get here, so we know the exact origin of the light source? When light travels a vast distance, I picture a pin ball swerving left, then right, as it is attracted by strong gravity pulses in its path.
Matrix Solutions Network
THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT THE CENTER OF THE GALAXY IS SPINNING FASTER. In fact; the current evidence shows that the outer arms are moving as fast as the inner parts due to the rotation of a massive Electro-Magnetic Field...and not "spinning gravity". Without the EM Field...if the center of the galaxy was black hole...nothing would be spinning. And, I mean...at all. Gravity NEVER CREATES any centrifugal force. An alleged black-hole would only produce movement that is perpendicular to the center...from every direction that is conceivable. This movement is not 'FLAT"...it's spherical going to a single point. This is the alleged singularity...which is not and has not been proven since Einstein "theorized" this in 1916. Uh....Einstein was wrong and has been thoroughly and completely debunked about "gravity being created by space-time curvature" and Relativity. His "math-magics" tensor equations and models stipulated that the we live in "has no mass". This is how the debunking of Einstein began and it has only gotten worse...as those that "do real science" prove how Electro-Magnetism works in this Universe; by doing actual lab based experiences using scaled down plasma discharge equipment in actual laboratory settings. The lab work disproves dark matter, dark energy, black holes, white holes, wormholes...and many other "HOLES" in the scientific PROGRAMMING that we all got in SKULLE.
Shimul Nath
Shimul Nath 19 hours ago
Wow! Awesome explanation!!
Blovelife nTravel
Blovelife nTravel 20 hours ago
Brilliant lucid explanation
Mihai Topan
Mihai Topan 20 hours ago
Matrix Solutions Network
This is bogus and not the picture of a black hole. It would not create a "ring of light"...because all stars and planets in space are round. Therefore the "event horizon" of any alleged black hole would be ROUND...and not "flat" like a disc. Therefore, you could never see the "hole" at the center of anything....particularly the "edge" of an alleged black hole....because there IS NO EDGE. "If' in fact....as shown by the ball he is holding in his hand (and putting on that pedastal)....."if" there is an "event horizon"...then since that black ball is a sphere...light entering into the alleged event horizon would not be coming in at 360 degrees like a "disc"...the light would be coming in at every single angle INTO THE SPHERE. This means that the "event horizon" would look like any other star....it would glow and you would not see any sort of "dark center". The "theory" of black holes comes from the same "so-called" scientist that "photo-shopped" the so-called "background microwave radiation". But...either way....an event horizon ..."if" such exist...would be a 'ball". Just like gravity on earth; it pulls straight towards the center of that BALL....and that BALL IS NOT A DISC AND IT IS NOT FLAT. The photograph is Fake. It shows "light glowing".....but so what? Our sun glows. When you see a "sun spot"....it is dark inside. The best video debunk of black hole theory is Steven Crothers..."Quackademics" on youtube. At least get another view; before swallowing information that has NO PROOF....but is only based on allegation. The truth of that photograph is that...even if it is real; they do not whether the light is going towards the center of that ring or radiating outwards from the ring. And, any ring formation is usually an indication of a "NORTH-SOUTH" magnetic alignment where "matter" positions itself in the "stable center" of the opposing magnetic fields. This is proven by the fact that the planet (plane) all rotate around the sun approximately between the Sun's polar North and South Magnetic Axis. This "disc shape" comes from Magnetic alignment....not gravitational attraction.
Brenda Dutra
Brenda Dutra 21 hour ago
deepshikha bhardwaj
deepshikha bhardwaj 23 hours ago
Can you explain relativistic beaming a little more?
Ashish Wadatkar
Great video! I want to ask that why couldn't we capture the image of our own galaxy black hole? Please explain!
Ashuthosh Gowda
Ashuthosh Gowda 46 minutes ago
We will soon. The reason we chose m87 is because of it's size.its huge!
Starwaders Day ago
A picture is worth a thousand words. A model speaks a million words! I also use models when I teach. Very, very well done in this explanation of the 'shadow' which is spoken about in most reports without there being an attempt to understand what is meant.
Henry Day ago
Let me put this black hole none sense to rest; the black hole is y'all evil natures, it's true!!!
chucksteak01 Day ago
That was pretty much spot-on what the image looks like. Great explanation!
Teo Al
Teo Al Day ago
Now imagine a pioneer scientist discovering how to replicate a black hole, and giving it a try.
Hand Solo
Hand Solo Day ago
He is making it sound like you can actually see what is shown in the image if you are close enough. No it's not. The image is a computer generated image after god knows how many filters are applied to petabytes of data that no one will ever be able to independently evaluate, by that I mean not using computer programs designed to produce an image like this in the first place. The whole thing is another gravitational wave scam and these frauds are dying for their Osca...I mean Nobel Prize..
L Da
L Da Day ago
This is the best explanation i´ve found about the image of black holes. You are the best!
Andrew Fulton
So as a black hole absorbs mass, it gets bigger. What happens to all that light and EM radiation that a black hole absorbs though? It doesn't have mass, but has anyone theorized about a threshold beyond which something changes? What happens when it absorbs "too much" or "enough"?
Greg Janes
Greg Janes Day ago
Since light is entering and exiting the area on all sides you'd have a light spot....I'd think.
Hui-Ru Liao
Hui-Ru Liao Day ago
台灣翻譯 4:09 「光也會像白海豚一樣轉彎」實在太好笑了
F.D.S. Dynamo
F.D.S. Dynamo 2 days ago
This changes the knowledge of black hole .... how he explained thank you
F.D.S. Dynamo
+Hand Solo And you took it personally. Not only that you assumed the out come too. I asked that just to understand where exactly you were coming form with your argument. And to make sure that you had proper information and background knowledge about what you were proposing. Not to attack you or something. Whatever have fun and judge with logic and facts before jumping to conclusions.
Hand Solo
Hand Solo Day ago
If that's the first question that came into your mind, I don't see how this conversation can develop in a healthy manner.
F.D.S. Dynamo
+Hand Solo can i ask you what is your educational background or what do you study? don't take it personally. just a query
Hand Solo
Hand Solo Day ago
Lol no it doesn't. He is just repeating what every astronomer was taught in college that is predicted by theories that are 100 years old. Some of them are well connected enough to ask the government to hand over hundreds of millions to develop some program to materialize what they claim is real and surprise, everyone of them came back with exactly what they predicted! It's data manipulation and conformity at their best and science at it's worst. These people are no different than the idiots who are searching for Noah's ark.
ashish rai
ashish rai 2 days ago
Internet Explorer. We definitely need a superhero "above" to defend our Universe.
inigoimago 2 days ago
I’ve watched this several times and recommended it to friends. Great explanation!! I really appreciate how you carefully introduce each aspect and then build on it in a logical and understandable way.
Spartanll7x 2 days ago
Mind = Blown! 5/5. Veritasium is the highest quality of content on youtube.
Gautam Srivastav
Gautam Srivastav 2 days ago
As usual Hollywood was ahead of nasa
Sanjay W
Sanjay W 2 days ago
Funny how the new space race came back when flat earth became huge lmao
McDoogle 2 days ago
Of course, nowhere „in“ that black hole will exist a singularity. Due to relativistic effects and us being an outside observer, the formation of a singularity will not happen until an infinite amount of time will have passed. All the matter that went „into“ the black hole has yet to pass the event horizon, but since apparently (to us) no time is passing for this matter, it just can’t. It takes quite literally forever for that matter to form a singularity.
Lord Samich
Lord Samich 2 days ago
If we can detect Hawking Radiation. Could we not paint a picture with that?
NautiluS 2 days ago
I wish I could have watched this when it came out because he called it exactly
This is an image of the plasma torus at the galactic centre with the Birkeland current which extends from it photoshopped out.
Hammad El Said
Hammad El Said 2 days ago
Helpful thank you
Haxzaw 2 days ago
...1.5 shwar...1.21 gigwatts or 65,000,000,000,000,000,000au it's all hogwash lol
A Zafi
A Zafi 2 days ago
yawns,, gotta go back to school to even get any idea what he just said.
Eric Fischer
Eric Fischer 2 days ago
You should have started with SPOILER ALERT!
jan b
jan b 2 days ago
It match well what the photo show
CYB3RFR34K 2 days ago
im offended
Prabhat Attreya
Prabhat Attreya 2 days ago
Hats off.. Very well explained and indeed image was the way you described before release of image
Dj Chris Roxx
Dj Chris Roxx 2 days ago
Great explanation, cheers!
Comedy Copter
Comedy Copter 2 days ago
Harry S
Harry S 2 days ago
The difference in brightness around the ' hole ' indicates a rotation ? (the axis of rotation being the line dividing the areas of intensity ? Effecting the doppler beaming ?)
kryss thitkel
kryss thitkel 2 days ago
Paint Shop Joke!!!!!
Neo 2 days ago
thx for this I used it for some cool stuff
Max Warfield
Max Warfield 2 days ago
Thank you - my brain, is now broken
AGA UBAID 2 days ago
Can you please make it a bit more simplified?
Mark Eugene Lee
Mark Eugene Lee 2 days ago
Ull r totally wrong,,,I'll explain it to you
Milan Šekularac
Milan Šekularac 2 days ago
Wonderfull video. But are you sure the photon has no mass? I recall from high school physics the conclusion of the photon having the 'heavy' mass, in the context of it being bent by the nearby gravity (solar exclipse experiment which confirmed Einstein calculation). In other words, you could also reason why would photon be affected by gravity at all, if it had no mass?🤔😊 Photon is an electromagnetic field. Substance and the field are the two forms of the existance of matter. So, seems logical that the field has a (albeit small) mass, and is thus affected by gravity...(of the situation😋).
Milan Šekularac
+Cedric Brouste that's a convinient explanation, but if photon energy is E= h x nu, and E= m c^2, why couldn't photon have a mass too...?
Cedric Brouste
Cedric Brouste 2 days ago
Mass of the sun or black hole curves significantly space-time, light goes straight lines in space time, I.e in a significantly curved space, so the trajectory is curved. No need for mass to the photons, and it would break the standard model in ways that would be really tough to reconcile. No observation ever disproved the absence of mass to the photons and EM field.
kryss thitkel
kryss thitkel 2 days ago
Paint Shop Joke!!!!
Blake Julian
Blake Julian 2 days ago
Thanks for the explanation. My students love your videos... I love your videos. Haha had my chemistry students create their own chemical bonding songs after we watched your atoms and bonding song videos haha Keep up the good fight!
mcasuse 3 days ago
mcasuse 3 days ago
So Basically, we are looking "into your deep black hole?!?!?! and it is skewed like we don't understand it?" But it is our own black holes?!?!
Georgios Papadopoulos
Inside the black hole the trapped light will make it white!
Anjana MP anju
Anjana MP anju 3 days ago
Nice explanation..... 😁
kryss thitkel
kryss thitkel 2 days ago
Paint Shop Joke!!!!!
arfito_ 3 days ago
ada yg dateng dari kok bisa ?
PG's Karaoke
PG's Karaoke 3 days ago
Nice Prediction..Awesome....
vaillant steven
vaillant steven 3 days ago
Nice job.
Josh C
Josh C 3 days ago
Once you go black you dont go back
booger king
booger king 3 days ago
My friends, wait no further! If you wanna see the black hole, get a mirror, turn around, bend over and spread your büťt cheeks. There at the center, you will find the black hole! And as a bonus, I shall tell you how to obtain the elusive dark matter! Next time you take a dump, look at the bottom of the toilet bowl before you flush. There you will find the dark matter!! Kthxbye!!!
Sarah Mata
Sarah Mata 3 days ago
Please explain to me how I can look into a black hole and see the back of my head because I cannot wrap my head around how that is possible? I mean, I understand it's not physically possible for me to get there and do that, but how is it theoretically possible?
10 to the minus 17 Torr?!?!?!
If you enjoyed this .... you will love this video fivid.net/video/video-s0OnXHpod_o.html
jajesam sigurno
jajesam sigurno 3 days ago
I thought that I will learn something about cgi and photoshop but there is just a bunch of religious crapping
Cube-ify M. M. M.
PLEASE Make A Video or Two on NEBULA!
weejams 3 days ago
To be totally honest I want to know what happens once the threshold of the even horizon is crossed. I have a lot of questions. Why are there so many paradoxes involved if the "Black hole" is spherical in nature? Why can we theoretically see the back side of it? So if we are talking about possibly and infinitesimal object with infinite gravity that light photons can not escape aren't we talking about what may describe the Bing Bang event? I would love to know. Maybe it is taking the energy from this space time and regurgitating it out in another reality. which would be another universe. We may be looking at the first part of a big bang in another Universe which could be deemed the Multiverse theory. We have theories about our "Big Bang" but what if our Universe started a long long time ago with Light and energy being sucked up in a black hole in another Universe? I think what worries me more is that we are looking dead on on the earth and what happens when the jets let go in common perceptions of Astrophysics? We have never witnessed it in real time because how can we? We witness the past and it seems plausible and say what does 500 years mean in the timelines we are talking about? We think we know but we just don't. As for the jets I think we are lucky looking at the image. It seems like we are looking at it sort of tilted toward us and explains why the bottom is brighter than the top. Regardless of everything I am still in awe. I am surprised very few people are though. Ahh, Black hole, who cares? The first image of one and no on cares it seems. We are looking at it how it was in time and not how it is in space. But to me it holds great physical awe and great philosophical awe and it is a big deal. It should be a big deal with everyone too. Ask most people and it was just a passing news story.
Chris Warner
Chris Warner 3 days ago
The team producing a fuzzy photo from literally 8 telescopes scattered across the globes is not nearly as impressive as this ni🈁a perfectly drawing their photo beforehand... This dude just put the G in Genius...💯
51vvince 3 days ago
rowan and martin WOLFGANG very interesting but i tink you're STUPID
Shawn Moshos
Shawn Moshos 3 days ago
There are no such things as black holes. What is at the center of every galaxy is a plasmoid. It is an electrodynamic effect of electromagnetism. Thunderbolts.info Black Hole or Plasmoid? fivid.net/video/video-J4NffTr_GMk.html
Gautham BP
Gautham BP 3 days ago
When the great Walter Lewin himself declares your video as the best explanation yet on youtube he has ever seen, you know you have reached new heights. Amazing video! Keep rocking :)
Incredible World
Incredible World 3 days ago
Very good video! Always keep creating nice content and you will get bigger very quickly! Subscribe to our channel and so we should subscribe back to you!
eyeJUSTkill Fuck how you feel
How could you keep a straight face, talking about something no one has seen. The Black Hole Surrounded by The White. The Black Hole is the Ghetto and the Poor Areas. The White Surrounding the Black Ball is the White Elites Living Outside the Continents. Waiting for Us to Die off.
Adhima Alazmy
Adhima Alazmy 3 days ago
love the explanation
groovergabe 3 days ago
can black wholes more likely einstein rosen bridges or time travelprotals
Robert 3 days ago
Your totally wrong. I've been around a black hole and all I saw was nappy pubes and it stunk. Oh wait! That was a black chick I banged in the ass. Sorry
Josh C
Josh C 3 days ago
Black holes feel good
Snoop52 3 days ago
The visual aids were great
Tomas Nofziger
Tomas Nofziger 3 days ago
Not images like a snapshot of your mother. You're looking at virtual reality as per algorithms predicated on assumptions, with these assumptions predicated on some facts and plenty of theoretical bias. Astrophysicists haven't even tested the results against other theories regarding what the image(s) represent due to academic consensus thinking-permitted protocol for funding. You might consider another explanation before you justify to the gullible and uneducated public all the monies, grants, endowments and salaries needed to conduct science as it's conducted today, often without experimental evidence. For scientists bent on truth, not glory, look here to consider another point of view: fivid.net/video/video-J4NffTr_GMk.html
Chike 3 days ago
Wouldn't what we call neutron star that is massive enough look just the same if it had accretion disk? How can we positively tell if it has an event horizon or not? What would be the lowest electromagnetic radiation frequency emitted by a massive neutron star?
thanksfernuthin 3 days ago
What would it look like top down? Just a solid light mass?
pradip seth
pradip seth 3 days ago
Dude, Dr. Walter Lewin mentioned you on his channel as the go-to for this image. 👏👏👏
Toaster Bath Challenge
Where can i bow down before you? The prediction was on point.
Triadne 3 days ago
if that matter is going close to the speed of light, then time must be moving really incredibly slow for it... so for it to throw out enough light for us to be able to see it this brightly, then it must be insanely powerful. I can't imagine how much light it must be emitting for each of it's own local seconds. what sort of energy output are we even looking at here?
Allen Ayler
Allen Ayler 3 days ago
The image was created using algorithms based on what they already expected to see. Half the image is CGI, basically. Veritasium, it would be interesting if you could do a response video to this: fivid.net/video/video-J4NffTr_GMk.html
مونتاج خرافي
this work by kaite about black hole not true because her algorithm fourier inverse transform ,this algorithm tends to pool anarchic values toward the center but if an algorithm is used DCT instead of in fouirer inverse The market results do not show up correctly
Sai Kumar
Sai Kumar 3 days ago
desiboy143 3 days ago
“That misses the GRAVITY of the situation” 😂
Sofía T Garcia
Sofía T Garcia 3 days ago
Ah Derek, you found your niche for sure. You're a science lecturer who make things easier to understand. Thanks!!! and dead on!
Li Lo
Li Lo 3 days ago
what do you mean light has no mass
Jurre Meijer
Jurre Meijer 3 days ago
6:15 How can something be infinite and yet have an edge or end?
Ping Pong Cup Shots
Jurre Meijer By getting smaller each time
Clessandra Pippenschnott
Good enough for me. Thank You, for the effort.
SrmthfgRockLee 4 days ago
man why is it everytime i visit this channel lately my description is auto translated.. yet not on others??did veritasium create this.. so annoying, i want on english ;o
Harikrishnan N Menon
Best video about black hole😍 Clarity in his explanations 👌 Simply marvellous
konjaleo 4 days ago
Very nice video! Where did you get all the numbers? Do you have any suggestions for further reading?
Travis van der Font
I think it's spinning, extremely fast by compression. The harder it compresses the more energy it spins. Think about a spinning object, once it goes fast enough as if the light goes through it, but it's not. It's that simple.
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