Black holes are mysterious cosmic structures partly because they radiate in regions of the spectrum invisible to the human eye. But artists still strive to depict their violent, intense lives. We've got a gallery.
Black holes are objects with such incredible mass and strong gravitational fields that visible light can't escape them. Often, astronomers can perceive black holes because they are sucking gas from neighboring stars, and then spitting energy back out in the invisible, super-hot x-ray region of the spectrum. While we understand black holes far better than we did even a decade ago, there is still no conclusive theory that explains why black holes exist or how, exactly, they function.
Their mystery is part of what makes them such a tantalizing subject of science illustration - as well as science fiction film and art.
Black holes look even cooler when we can see them in action. Here are a couple of movies people have made that attempt to reconstruct what a black hole would look like - from a scientific perspective, not a Hollywood one.
Here's a black hole eating a star of roughly the same size as our sun:
Here's the simulation of a collision between two black holes: