ブラックホールを初観測~観測結果やブラックホールの仕組みを解説

もふもふ科学のもふです。

大学で物理を先行し、研究開発を16年やってきました。物理が好きなので、科学の楽しさや面白さなどを解説していきます。

2019年4月10日に、世界同時記者会見でブラックホールを撮影した画像が公開されました。

今回観測されたブラックホールの画像

 

この画像がどのようにして撮影されたのかなど、わかりやすく解説します。

ブラックホールの観測がどのようにされたのか?

7カ所の電波望遠鏡を使い、初めて観測された

世界7カ所の電波望遠鏡を使い観測された

観測は、世界7カ所の電波望遠鏡を使って観測されました。

望遠鏡は、レンズのサイズが大きければ大きいほど遠くのものをきれいに移すことができます。

電波望遠鏡は離れた望遠鏡同士のデータを連動させることで、より大きなレンズの望遠鏡とすることができるのです。世界7カ所の電波望遠鏡を連動させることで、より遠くのものをきれいに見えるようになりました。(参考:電波望遠鏡開口合成アンテナ)

それがブラックホールを撮影できるようになった秘密の一つです!

銀河M87の中心にある超巨大ブラックホールが観測された

銀河の中心には、巨大なブラックホールがあることがわかっていました。銀河M87の中心にはブラックホールがあり、そこから巨大なジェットが噴出していることがわかっていました。(M87の巨大ジェット)

今回、観測はこのM87銀河が優先されました。地球からの距離が近く、相対的に大きなブラックホールが存在していることが予想されたので一番大きく画像が映る可能性があったためです。

M87の中心のブラックホールは、ブラックホールに落ち込むガスが発する光が銀河全体の光よりも多くの光を放っています。それくらい巨大で活発に活動している銀河のブラックホールなので、ブラックホールが撮影されることが期待されていました。

銀河の中心には巨大ブラックホールがあることがわかっており、銀河が大きくなればなるほど中心のブラックホールも巨大になっていくことがわかっています。

しかし、なぜ銀河の中心に巨大なブラックホールがあるのかわかっていません。

巨大なブラックホールがあるから巨大銀河になったのか?

巨大銀河があるから巨大ブラックホールができたのか?

今回の発見で銀河が形成される謎が解明される手掛かりになる可能性もあります。

 

今わかっている

そもそもブラックホールとは?光すら出られない!

アインシュタインが重力で光が曲げられると予想

アインシュタインが一般相対性理論のなかで、「重力は質量が空間をゆがめるもので、その歪みが重力となる。光も重力によって曲げられる」と予言しました。

そしてその予言は、1919年に皆既日食の時に太陽の裏にある星が地球から観測できたことで証明されました。重力によって光が曲げられるのです。

極端に重い星だと、光すら出られなくなると予言。これがブラックホール

もし、非常に大きな質量がある物体を、ものすごく小さく圧縮したらどうなるか?そのような場合、光ですらその物体から抜け出せなくなると予言されました。それがブラックホールです。

上記の図のように、ものすごい重い物体が無限小のサイズに押し込められると、空間がすごくゆがめられます。その歪みがある一定量を超えると、光ですら脱出できなくなります。

その光が脱出できなくなる場所を、事象の地平線といいます。

ブラックホールが本当にあるのかどうか?理論上だけの存在で実際には起こりえないのか?

これは長い間議論が続きましたが、これまでの様々な観測結果からブラックホールがあることは確実となっています。

ブラックホールができるまで

一般的にブラックホールができるまでの予想としては、

ブラックホールができるまで
  1. 恒星の核融合が進むと大爆発を起こす(超新星爆発)
  2. 爆発の後、中性子星が残る
  3. 恒星の質量が太陽の30倍以上だと、中性子星が自分の重さを支えきれない
  4. 中性子星が自分の重さで圧縮されて行き、無限に小さくなりブラックホールとなる

というメカニズムが予想されています。

今回観測された銀河M87の中心の超巨大ブラックホールがどのように作られたのかはまだ明確にわかってはいませんが、一般的には重い恒星が大爆発した時にブラックホールができると考えられています。

ガスがブラックホールに落ちていくと、加速されて光り輝く

ブラックホールにガスが落ちていくと、どんどん加速されて行きます。加速されるとエネルギーを持つので、どんどん高温になり、プラズマとなって光り輝きます。

ガスは渦を巻いて落ちていくので、膠着円盤と言われたりしています。

ブラックホールの予想図(Almaより)

超高速のジェットが噴出していますが、なぜジェットが噴出しているのかなど謎がまだ多いです。

ブラックホールの観測の見え方

今回のブラックホールの観測結果ですが、周囲の膠着円盤から発せられる光がブラックホールによって曲げられて、その光が地球に向かってきているところを撮影されています。

リンクのサイズは1000億kmで、ブラックホールの質量からよそうされる事象の地平線は400億kmと見積もられています。太陽から海王星までの距離が45億㎞くらいなので、事象の地平線(光が抜けられない)の大きさは太陽系の5倍くらいの大きさと、途方もないくらい大きいです!

参考記事

 

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