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Christopher Nolan’s movie ‘Interstellar’ will be an epic space adventure encapsulating humanity’s need to explore the Universe, but it’s the visual effects for the movie that are garnering early attention.
By combining the help of one of the world’s leading black hole physicists with a cutting-edge visual effects (VFX) team, ‘Interstellar’ will depict the most scientifically accurate black hole in science fiction history. And, during production, some new discoveries were made as to how a black hole would appear if we could view it up close.
“Neither wormholes or black holes have been depicted in any Hollywood movie in the way they actually would appear,” said Caltech physicist Kip Thorne in a behind-the-scenes video released by Paramount Pictures (featured below). “This is the first time that the depiction (of a black hole) began with Einstein’s general relativity equations.”
General relativity describes the nature of gravity. How a black hole, being the most gravitationally dominant object in the known Cosmos, would look to an observer can therefore be described by Einstein’s equations — except for when tangling with the Black Hole Information Paradox, then you’ll need some quantum equations to boot.
Thorne is a lifelong friend of fellow black hole guru Stephen Hawking and between both of the theoretical physicists, our modern understanding of how these singularities work has flourished. So with the help of Thorne, Nolan has done something very smart; he’s been able to provide the movie-viewing public with a rare sci-fi look into the actual science of a black hole while maintaining an artistic representation that we can easily comprehend.
Interstellar Movie Trailer #3
While crunching the mathematics and arriving at graphical representations of Einstein’s famous equations, Thorne and the movie’s VFX team realized that if a star is positioned behind the black hole, the starlight may become trapped in the warped spacetime close to the black hole’s event horizon. Known as gravitational lensing, this spacetime effect can be used by astronomers to detect exoplanets, for example. But during the production of ‘Interstellar,’ the team realized a spacetime subtlety.
The Matter of an Accretion Disk
Of course, no black hole would be complete without the addition of a radiating accretion disk. But how would that appear on film?
As matter falls toward the spinning black hole’s event horizon, the gas collects into a hot accretion disk, shining brilliantly. By adding the disk, “we found that if you then render this whole thing and you visualize it all through this extraordinary gravitational lens, the gravity twists this glowing disk of gas into weird shapes and you get this extraordinary ‘rainbow of fire’ across the top of the black hole,” said Franklin.
Science fiction movies are produced to entertain, first and foremost. But as computer graphics become more sophisticated and the science fiction-viewing public becomes more savvy, there is a growing motivation by filmmakers to make space phenomena as ‘real’ as possible. And often that will mean employing the help of scientists to make our most extreme space fantasies as scientifically accurate as possible to maintain a credible storyline.
‘Interstellar’ is shaping up to be one of those rare movies that will combine science and fiction, exciting the viewing public, potentially engaging us with astrophysics in a way we’ve never experienced before.
Source : Discovery News