Black holes are some of the most powerful and mysterious objects in the universe, what is left behind after a star has collapsed. NASA has compiled several dramatic images of what are believed to be black holes in space. This is a Chandra X-Ray Observatory image of the nearby galaxy Centaurus A. This image is believed to show the effects of a super massive black hole within the galaxy. (Text: Katherine Butler)
Baby black hole spotted being born
NASA recently announced that for the first time, a black hole was seen being “born” out of an exploding star in a neighboring galaxy. As Discovery News reports, “the baby black hole is located in the M-100 galaxy, which is about 50 million light-years from Earth.” NASA is excited because it now knows the precise “birth date” of a black hole, allowing experts to study it as never before.
Double black holes
Another image from the Chandra Observatory shows the galaxy M82, which has “two bright X-ray sources” of interest. NASA believes these points may be the starting points for two intermediate or super massive black holes. Researchers believe black holes may form when a star runs out of its own fuel and burns itself out. It is then crushed by its own gravitational weight. Matter collapses into “infinite density” and an extreme curve of space time is created.
Head to head
Scientists believe black holes exist according to evidence as determined by Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Experts use Einstein’s understanding of gravity to determine the immense gravitational pull of a black hole. In this image, information from the Chandra X-ray Observatory is combined with images from the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA believes these two black holes are spiraling toward each other and have been doing so for 30 years. NASA thinks they will eventually become one big black hole.
A black hole-powered stream of electrons barrels out of the M87 galaxy into space. These are subatomic particles traveling near the speed of light. This indicates that there may be a super massive black hole at the center of this galaxy. Super massive black holes are, in fact, the largest black holes in the galaxy. This one is believed to have “swallowed up” matter equal to 2 billion of our suns.
NASA believes this image shows evidence of a recoiling black hole, caused either by two super massive black holes colliding with each other to form a system, or it is the “slingshot effect” formed from a system that had three black holes. When stars supernova, they can leave behind a huge remnant that collapses back into itself. This means they have no volume but infinite density, making them black holes.
Pulling from a star
This artist’s rendering shows a black hole pulling gas away from a nearby star. A black hole is black because its gravitational pull is so dense that it traps light. They are invisible, which is why researchers rely on their evidence to determine their existence. NASA points out that black holes can be as small as one atom or as large as a billion of our suns.
Bursting with stars
This artist’s rendering shows a quasar, which is a super massive black hole surrounded by spinning material. This quasar exists at the center of a galaxy. While quasars are the early stages of a black hole, they nonetheless may exist for billions of years. Still, it is thought that they were made in the ancient era of the universe. Any “new” quasars that are found are thought to merely have been hidden from our view.
Kaleidoscope of color
NASA, Spitzer and Hubble telescopes show a false-color image of a giant jet of particles being shot of out a super massive black hole. It is thought this jet is stretching across 100,000 light-years of space, which NASA reports is as big as our Milky Way Galaxy. The color shows the jet’s different light waves. There is a super massive black hole at the center of our galaxy called Sagittarius A. NASA believes it has a mass equal to 4 billion of our suns.
This image shows a “micro quasar,” which is believed to be a scaled-down black hole the same mass as a star. If you were to fall into the black hole, you would cross the event horizon, which is the boundary of the black hole. Even if you were not already crushed by gravity, you would not be able to cross back out of the black hole. Also, you would be in darkness to anyone watching you. Ultimately, a trip to a black hole would prove fatal. If a person were to travel into a black hole, he or she would be ripped apart by gravity.