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Light Detected Behind a Black Hole for the First Time

Light Detected Behind a Black Hole for the First Time

(CNN)It’s a light show in space unlike any other.

For the first time, scientists have detected light from behind a black hole, and it fulfills a prediction rooted in Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
Stanford University astrophysicist Dan Wilkins and his colleagues observed X-rays that were released by a supermassive black hole located at the center of a galaxy that is 800 million light-years from Earth.
These bright light flares are not unusual because although light can’t escape a black hole, the enormous gravity around it can heat up material to millions of degrees. This can release radio waves and X-rays. Sometimes, this super-heated material is hurled out into space by rapid jets — including X-rays and gamma rays.
But Wilkins noticed smaller flashes of X-rays that occurred later and were different colors — and they were coming from the far side of the black hole.
“Any light that goes into that black hole doesn’t come out, so we shouldn’t be able to see anything that’s behind the black hole,” said Wilkins, study author and research scientist at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, in a statement.
However, the black hole’s strange nature actually made the observation possible.
“The reason we can see that is because that black hole is warping space, bending light and twisting magnetic fields around itself,” he said.

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