Images: Black holes of the universe

Space cloud ripped apart by Milky Way's giant black hole

ESO/S. Gillessen

These observations from ESO's Very Large Telescope, using the SINFONI instrument, show how a gas cloud is being stretched and ripped apart as it passes close to the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. Image released July 17, 2013.

A trail of gas

ESO/S. Gillessen/MPE/Marc Schartmann

This simulation of a gas cloud passing close to the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy shows the situation in mid-2013. 

ESO/S. Gillessen

New observations from ESO’s Very Large Telescope show for the first time a gas cloud being ripped apart by the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy. Shown here are VLT observations from 2006, 2010 and 2013, colored blue, green and red respectively. Image released July 17, 2013.

Artist's view of super-bright black hole system

Jingchuan Yu

Artist's conception of an ultraluminous X-ray source consisting of a small black hole and a nearby companion star.

Eject, eject!


In an image from the Hubble Space Telescope, a red circle indicates an object in a distant galaxy that could be an ejected black hole.

Black hole grabs starry snack


This artist's concept shows a supermassive black hole at the center of a remote galaxy digesting the remnants of a star. NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer had a "ringside" seat for this feeding frenzy, using its ultraviolet eyes to study the process from beginning to end. This image was released Dec. 4, 2006.

Beware of the blob!


Glowing with an eerie brightness, massive blobs of gas seem to surround very young galaxies. NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and other telescopes examined the distant gas balls and found that their luminosity is likely due to energy released by black holes and star formation inside the galaxies. This illustration shows what one of the galaxies inside a blob might look like, with the spiral arms of the galaxy in yellow and white, and two-sided outflow powered by the supermassive black hole buried inside shown in bright yellow.

Shadow of black hole event horizon

© M. Moscibrodzka & H. Falcke, Radboud-Universität Nimwegen

General relativistic ray tracing simulations of the shadow of the event horizon of a black hole.

Supermassive Black Hole in Galaxy Center

ESO/M. Kornmesser

This artist’s impression shows the surroundings of the supermassive black hole at the heart of the active galaxy NGC 3783 in the southern constellation of Centaurus. Image released June 20, 2013.

Black hole snacks on 'super Jupiter'


The black hole at the center of galaxy NGC 4845 is seen snacking on a giant gas planet or "failed star" in this screenshot from an ESA animation.

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