The image, of a lopsided ring of light surrounding a dark circle deep in the heart of the galaxy known as Messier 87, some 55 million light-years away from Earth, resembled the Eye of Sauron, a reminder yet again of the power and malevolence of nature. It is a smoke ring framing a one-way portal to eternity.
To capture the image, astronomers reached across intergalactic space to Messier 87, a giant galaxy in the constellation Virgo. There, a black hole several billion times more massive than the sun is unleashing a violent jet of energy some 5,000 light-years into space.
It seems that the crew involved with Nolan and Thorne weren't too far off.
I am glad someone posted this. I agree. Although it looked a little cooler in Interstellar.
Amazing those guys made real scientific progress through the movie...
"In the end, Nolan got elegant images that advance the story. Thorne got a movie that teaches a mass audience some real, accurate science. But he also got something he didn't expect: a scientific discovery. “This is our observational data,” he says of the movie's visualizations. “That's the way nature behaves. Period.” Thorne says he can get at least two published articles out of it.
We are seeing this black hole from one of its poles, unlike in the film. The light gets distorted around the black hole from this perspective whereas the accretion disk would be visible from its equator.
"As far as the line going through Christopher Nolan's version, it just isn't visible from the official image due to the angle" according to Kazunori Akiyama, who compared it. "The light coming closer to Earth would be a lot brighter than the light moving away, which is what the M87 image shows. Christopher Nolan's would be brighter because they are closer to the supermassive black hole." One key difference, besides Nolan's lens flare, is the fact that the M87 shows a thicker accretion disk from what Kip Thorne originally thought.
Gargantua is a supermassive black hole... meaning it's most likely one that lies at the center of its galaxy. According to the book by Kip Thorne it's similar in size to the one that is at the centre of the Andromeda galaxy. It's density and size are so enormous because it allows its gravitational forces to be steady on the nearby planets and on Cooper to not get torn apart of spaghetified.
I found this image online (but I don't remember if this exact image was in the actual book by Kip... I'll check it when I come back home):
As you can see its size is SO enormous it's hard to grasp. This makes showing and understanding its scale quite tricky. The perspective shifts due to different positions that we are thrown into but most likely also because Nolan wanted to show it visually as more comprehensible in some shots.
As for whether it's the sun of those planets... not really. The film actually specifies that there is a neutron star surrounding Gargantua and that is most likely the star of Miller and Mann's planet and the main source of light (though the massive nature of the black hole and it's accretion disk will also create a lot of light on the planet's surface. Perhaps even a constant day). Edmunds is located further away and it's orbiting a different star. Which actually should have been their first try, regardless of the lack of fuel. The closer you get to a black hole, the more extreme the conditions would be. Edmunds always felt like the safest... if not the only bet, of course if you don't consider Dr Mann's lies.
Thanks. I agree that Gargantua should be massive, but definitely felt relatively tiny in all of the shots by the end of the film. It looked like they could fly around it like it was just a big dome, lol. I know what you mean by what Nolan was trying to achieve. Just made it hard to feel out.
But yeah, now that you mention the neutron star that sounds familiar.