What’s this, you ask? Oh, it’s nothing. Just a supermassive black hole blasting a giant x-ray beam over a 300,000 light year-wide gulf of intergalactic space.
Black holes are some of the most powerful but difficult to comprehend objects in the universe, operating mysteriously and practically invisibly out of the reach of our sight. Until now, that is.
This is the Andromeda galaxy, our very own Milky Way’s next-door neighbor. It’s the best look we’ve ever managed to get at it—and there’s something very strange hidden in this picture.
Black holes don’t emit light, but they still shine. They do so because of accretion disks, but those disks don’t appear around black holes of all sizes. There could be incredibly huge black holes out in the universe that we can’t see, because they’ve gone really dark.
Black holes are some of the strangest objects in the universe. But, just as impenetrable a mystery? The heavy cloud cover encircling some black holes. Now, for the first time, researchers say they’ve managed to get a glimpse inside of one of those clouds. And what they found has some serious implications for our most…
You’ve heard it before: In space, no one can hear you scream. That’s because sound doesn’t move through a vacuum, and everyone knows that space is a vacuum. The thing is, that’s not completely true.
When a star wanders too close to a black hole, immense gravitational forces begin to rip it apart in an epic cosmic slaying called a “tidal disruption event.” Some of the star’s mass is flung outward into space, while the rest is drawn in, triggering a powerful flare that showers the sky with x-rays.
One of the trickiest black hole concepts to grasp is also one of their most basic: Black holes don’t give off any light, so how do we still manage to “see” something that is functionally invisible? Here’s a tidy explanation of how that paradox works.
When scientists spotted this pair of black holes, it was a rare chance to observe black holes in the process of colliding. Soon, however, as they looked closer, scientists were consumed with a brand new question: Uh, hey, what’s that blinking light?
Three and a half billion light years away in the Virgo constellation, two supermassive black holes are on the verge of smacking into one another. In 100,000 years, their cosmic collision will send ripples across the fabric of spacetime.
You don’t need to be a professional astronomer to find black holes. Here’s how you can spot one, using just your laptop or phone.
In the distant reaches of the Universe, exploding stars and supermassive black holes are bending the very fabric of spacetime. It’s hard to wrap our brains around such tremendous forces, but we may be able to quantify them, in the form of gravitational waves. A new European Space Agency mission marks humanity’s first…
Six hundred million light years away, a pair of black holes spiral furiously about one another at the brilliant core of a starburst galaxy.
Black holes have a rap for being hopeless vortexes of destruction, but what would really happen if you fell into one? According to Stephen Hawking, you might end up in another universe.
There’s a lot going on in this brand new X-ray view of our galaxy’s center—but just what does all that sound, fury, and color mean?
Five billion years ago, a blazar abruptly flared, triggered an intense rain of gamma rays. Racing across the universe for millennia, they finally slammed into NASA’s Fermi satellite over several days this June, setting a new record for the most luminous high-energy object we’ve ever seen.
There is a paradox in the universe: scientists believe that there are millions more giant black holes in the universe than we know about, and yet, if they are there, how would they remain hidden? It turns out they do so by hiding in something almost unbelievably common.
Even if you didn’t see Interstellar, you’ve probably heard about how black holes have an “event horizon” — and once you pass it, you’re mashed into multi-dimensional mush. But now, some physicists believe we got it all wrong. Black holes are more like fuzzy balls of cotton, with no event horizons at all.
You’d probably get upset if somebody ran smack into you on the street, or plowed into your car. Whatever sort of fuss you’d raise, however, pales miserably in comparison to the epic cosmic scream of supermassive black holes when their host galaxies collide.
In a galaxy far, far away—12.8 billion light-years away to be more exact—is a newly-discovered supermassive black hole that weighs as much as 12 billion of our suns. The most surprising thing about the black hole, though, is not its size but its age.