Our First Glimpse of Light From a Black Hole

Caught by an ordinary telescope.

For the first time, scientists were able to view visible light created by matter falling into a black hole, using an ordinary telescope.

V404 Cygni, 7,800 light years away in the constellation of Cygnus, is one of the closest black holes to Earth. Reporting in the journal Nature, Japanese researchers studying it caught the flickering glow of superheated dust and gas as the matter swirled around and then was absorbed by the black hole. Until now, scientists had only been able to observe flashes of X-rays and gamma rays from similar friction-fueled explosions.