Dr Becky Smethurst Discusses New Black Hole Image on Channel 4 News

12 April 2019

Dr Becky Smethurst, Junior Research Fellow in Astrophysics at Christ Church, has been speaking in the media about the new image of a black hole at the centre of the galaxy M87, released on 10th April.

The image, taken by the Event Horizon Telescope, is the first ever produced of the emission from material around a black hole, clearly showing the shadow of the black hole's event horizon. Dr Smethurst was interviewed about this ground-breaking image by Cathy Newman on Channel 4 news on Wednesday 10th April and explained what we can see in the image, before talking through how the image allows us to test our theories of gravity, and describing the process of spaghettification.

She explained, ‘the black in the middle is not empty – it’s full of matter, it’s just so dense that light can’t escape from it anymore. And it’s amazing that we’ve even been able to see this – we can see the material around the black hole that’s glowing because it’s so hot from how fast it’s moving around the black hole, and we’ve been able to use the light that we can see around the black hole spiralling inwards to test gravity in a whole new way’.

You can watch the interview in full on the Channel 4 website. On Wednesday Dr Smethurst also spoke about the new image with Lilley Mitchell on BBC Radio Oxford’s drive time show – you can listen again here, starting at 22:15.

Dr Smethurst’s research focusses on galaxies, and the effect of these supermassive black holes that lie at the centre of each galaxy. She also has a successful YouTube channel, Dr Becky, where she explores the night sky and explains many areas of astrophysics research.

Credit Eleanor Sanger, Social Media Office, Christ Church