Anything that gets sucked into a black hole is gone forever, including light. But occasionally, black holes may experience a phenomenon in which the substances falling into them release enormous amounts of energy that can appear as light.
For the first time ever, astronomers were able to observe this violent outburst of flickering light near a black hole using an ordinary 20-centimeter telescope, according to The Guardian -- an instrument popular with amateur stargazers.
These bursts of light occur when nearby space material falls into a black hole and causes a friction-fueled explosion.
The dramatic way that this light fluctuates provides insight into the little-known ways that matter can be absorbed by a black hole, according to Live Science.
This video shows a glimpse of the flickering light as recorded over a 3.5-hour period:
Black holes that have nearby stars are capable of coming to life every once in a while. But until now, scientists have only observed similar explosions of light as intense flashes of X-rays and gamma rays.
Japanese researchers detected this glow around the newly active black hole V404 Cygni in June, after it had awakened from a 26-year period of inactivity, according to Tech Times.
"We find that activity in the vicinity of a black hole can be observed in optical light at low luminosity for the first time," researcher Mariko Kimura told Space.com. "These findings suggest that we can study physical phenomena that occur in the vicinity of the black hole using moderate optical telescopes without high-spec X-ray or gamma-ray telescopes."
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