While we’re endlessly fascinated with black holes, we can’t physically see them. “Black” isn’t a euphemism; since even light can’t escape them, there’s nothing for the naked eye to see. But if we could see them, the night sky would look vastly different, and far more colorful.
The images were captured by NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory, which is exactly what it sounds like — a telescope probing the depths of space with x-rays instead of visible light. And the scope offers a very different look at the night sky.
Just released by NASA:
Over 70% of what you’re seeing in that picture are black holes. They stand out on x-ray because as gases are sucked into the gravity of a black hole, they become superheated and give off x-rays, allowing us to spot them. More than that, some of these are millions of years old, created not long after the Big Bang.
We often think of space as a huge void dotted with rocks and stars, but as this picture shows us, there’s so much more worth studying and wondering about. By studying the x-rays hitting Earth, we’re better able to understand just how galaxies, black holes, and other stellar phenomena are formed. That it happens to be beautiful is just a pleasant side effect.