The results of a new study contradict many people’s perceptions of black holes. One thing most people have heard of as a black hole is that nothing escapes its gravity, not even light. Although this is true of light and other matter near a black hole, some light does escape the black hole’s gravity a little further away from the accretion disk around the black hole.
The study found that some light succumbs to the black hole’s gravity under the gravitational pull of a black hole, then turns back and pops out of the accretion disk, escaping the black hole’s gravity. One of the scientists involved in the study said the team observed light coming out of a place very close to a black hole that tries to escape it but is pulled back like a boomerang. Riley Connors, a scientist at the California Institute of Technology who led the study, said the phenomenon was predicted in the 1970s but has not been confirmed until now.
The scientists made the discovery by studying observations from the Rossi X-ray Space-time Exploration Mission. The researchers looked at black holes orbited by sun-like stars. The black hole number XTE J1550-564. The black hole draws material from the star in orbit and pulls it into the accretion disk of the flat structure around it.
The team looked closely at X-ray rays from the accretion disk, which circled toward the black hole, and found a mark that showed that the light was bent back into the suction disk and reflected off, which was essentially illuminating itself. Scientists say they have predicted that light will bend back part of the accretion disk, and they have confirmed the prediction for the first time.