AiS Challenge Team Interim Report

Team Number: 054

School Name: Moriarty High School

Area of Science: Astrophysics

Project Title: The Detection of Blackholes

Project Definition

The purpose of our project is to determine a method for the detection of blackholes in space. If proven accurate, this will give us more knowledge on how blackholes move and where they are located. We will write a C++ program to detect the presence of a blackhole by observing the changes in the constellations around a simulated blackhole. Our math model will include the use of similar triangles and an Einstein angle.

Plan to Solve the Problem Computationally

We plan to solve this problem by using Einstein angles and similar triangles to determine the position of the black hole by calculating the distortion it causes in surrounding constellations, then putting these calculations and concepts in to a math model for use in a C++ program. We have now found several formulas which should aid us in our work including the formula for finding the Einstein angle, the formula to find out how far away from the hole the star was moved and a few others.

Progress to Date

We are currently gathering data and mathematical equations to help us come up with a math model, as well as give us some insight as to how to go about doing this project in the most efficient way. We have also been gathering constellation maps and some information on black holes which may be useful in making our project. We now know one way to detect a fairly massive black hole, given to us from a scientist, Joshua Barnes:
"If a fairly massive black hole were to pass by a few lights years from our solar system, one sign of its passage might be the distortions it would produce in distant constellations. For example, if a black hole were to pass between us and Pleades, we might detect it by noticing that the stars in the Pleades constellation seemed to shift from their usual positions. Of course, this shift is due to the black hole acting as a gravitational lens; after the hole had passed by, the stars would return to their usual places. This might even be the only sign that a black hole passed us by, since something so black is pretty hard to see."

Expected Results

We originally expected that when we had completed our project we will have come up with a possilbe way of detecting black holes by observing the changes in the constellations around possible black holes. Also, we planned to have more knowledge on how black holes move and where they are located, as well as learning more about similar triangles and an Einstein angle. We now expect, in addition to those things, to use the idea given to us by Joshua Barnes to get our project under way, using the basic theories above.

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