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9 Interesting & Incredible Images Of Black Holes

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black hole

                A black hole is a region of space from which nothing, not even light, can escape. The theory of general relativity predicts that a very compact mass will deform space time to form a black hole. Around a black hole there is an undetectable surface called an event horizon that marks the point of no return. It is called "black" because it absorbs all the light that hits the horizon, reflecting nothing, just like a perfect black body in thermodynamics. Quantum mechanics predicts that black holes also emit radiation like a black body with a finite temperature. This temperature is inversely proportional to the mass of the black hole, making it difficult to observe this radiation for black holes of stellar mass.
This is a Chandra X-Ray Observatory image of the nearby galaxy Centaurus A. This image is one of the best views to date of the effects of an active supermassive black hole.
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Photo: NASA
Micro quasar

                A micro quasar (or radio emitting X-ray binary) is a smaller cousin of a quasar. Micro quasars are named after quasars, as they have some common characteristics: strong and variable radio emission, often resolvable as a pair of radio jets, and an accretion disk surrounding a compact object which is either a black hole or a neutron star. In quasars, the black hole is supermassive (millions of solar masses); in micro quasars, the mass of the compact object is only a few solar masses. In micro quasars, the accreted mass comes from a normal star, and the accretion disk is very luminous in the optical and X-ray regions. Micro quasars are sometimes called radio-jet X-ray binaries to distinguish them from other X-ray binaries. A part of the radio emission comes from relativistic jets, often showing apparent superluminal motion.
Micro quasars are very important for the study of relativistic jets. The jets are formed close to the compact object, and timescales near the compact object are proportional to the mass of the compact object. Therefore, ordinary quasars take centuries to go through variations a micro quasar experiences in one day.
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Photo: ESA/NASA/Felix Mirabel
Bursting with stars

                A growing black hole, called a quasar, can be seen at the center of a faraway galaxy in this artist's concept. Using NASA's Spitzer and Chandra Space Telescopes, astronomers discovered swarms of similar quasars hiding in dusty galaxies in the distant universe.
The new-found quasars belong to a long-lost population that had been theorized to be buried inside dusty, distant galaxies, but were never actually seen. While some quasars are easy to detect because they are oriented in such a way that their X-rays point toward Earth, others are oriented with their surrounding doughnut-clouds blocking the X-rays from our point of view. In addition, dust and gas in the galaxy itself can block the X-rays.
This artist’s rendering shows a quasar, which is a supermassive 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.
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Photo: NASA/JPL/Caltech
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.
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An artist's drawing shows a large black hole pulling gas away from a nearby star. Image Credit: NASA E/PO, Sonoma State University, Aurore Simonnet
Slingshot effect

                NASA believes this image shows evidence of a recoiling black hole, caused either by two supermassive 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.
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Photo: NASA/CXC/SAO
Cosmic searchlight

                A Cosmic Searchlight Streaming out from the center of the galaxy M87 like a cosmic searchlight is one of nature's most amazing phenomena, a black-hole- powered jet of electrons and other sub-atomic particles traveling at nearly the speed of light. In this NASA Hubble Space Telescope image, the blue of the jet contrasts with the yellow glow from the combined light of billions of unseen stars and the yellow, point-like globular clusters that make up this galaxy. At first glance, M87 (also known as NGC 4486) appears to be an ordinary giant elliptical galaxy; one of many ellipticals in the nearby Virgo cluster of galaxies. However, as early as 1918, astronomer H.D. Curtis noted a 'curious straight ray' protruding from M87. In the 1950s when the field of radio was blossoming, one of the brightest radio sources in the sky, Virgo A, was discovered to be associated with M87 and its jet. After decades of study, prompted by these discoveries, the source of this incredible amount of energy powering the jet has become clear. Lying at the center of M87 is a supermassive black hole, which has swallowed up a mass equivalent to 2 billion times the mass of our Sun.
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Photo: NASA/Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
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.
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Photo: NASA/CXC/MIT
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.
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Photo: NASA/JPL/Caltech
Double black holes

                This image from the Chandra X-ray Observatory shows the central region of the starburst galaxy M82 and contains two bright X-ray sources of special interest. New studies with Chandra and ESA's XMM-Newton show that these two sources may be intermediate-mass black holes, with masses in between those of the stellar-mass and supermassive variety. These "survivor" black holes avoided falling into the center of the galaxy and could be examples of the seeds required for the growth of supermassive black holes in galaxies, including the one in the Milky Way.
This is the first case where good evidence for more than one mid-sized black hole exists in a single galaxy. The evidence comes from how their X-ray emission varies over time and analysis of their X-ray brightness and spectra, i.e., the distribution of X-rays with energy. These results are interesting because they may help address the mystery of how supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies form. M82 is located about 12 million light years from Earth and is the nearest place to us where the conditions are similar to those in the early Universe, with lots of stars forming.
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Photo: NASA/CXC/Tsinghua Univ./H. Feng et al.
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