back to top

9 Incredible Black Holes You Need To Visit Before You Die

Just don't get too close, or you'll be spaghettified and die before you get to visit the rest.

Posted on

1. The supermassive black hole in the centre of this ultra-dense galaxy.

NASA, ESA, and D. Coe and G. Bacon (STScI) / Via hubblesite.org

If you're after stars, ultra-dense galaxy M60-UCD1 54 million light years away is the perfect destination. Its supermassive black hole, which weighs the same as 21 million suns, is the cherry on the top – warping the stars behind it and appearing as a silhouette on the starry sky.

2. This black hole in binary system 4U1630-47.

ESA/ATG medialab / Via esa.int

If you're a star in a binary system and your companion just turned into a black hole, start worrying. The black hole's gravity is about to pull you apart and turn you into a disk with a temperature so high that you'll emit x-rays and two powerful jets of particles.

On the plus side, if you're a tourist and keep a safe distance, it makes a great show.

3. This supermassive black hole surrounded by dust.

ESA/NASA, the AVO project and Paolo Padovani / Via spacetelescope.org

Spinning black holes gather up dust and debris just like tornados do, but on a cosmic scale. At least 30 of these powerful, partially dust-obscured black holes were found in a deep sky survey called GOODS (Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey) fields in 2004. With so many to choose, there's something to suit all budgets.

Advertisement

4. This black hole in a spiral galaxy 500 million light years away.

NASA/JPL-Caltech / Via stfc.ac.uk

Yes, 500 million light years is a bit of a trek. But black hole NLS1 PG1244+026 taught astronomers about measuring how black holes spin, so if you're a history buff it's definitely worth the trip.

5. The black hole at the heart of galaxy Markarian 509.

NASA and M. Weiss (Chandra X-ray Center) / Via spacetelescope.org

This black hole is an amazing 300 million times the mass of the sun and growing all the time. By the time you get there (it's a good 500 million light years away, so you won't be able to pack light) it'll be even bigger, having devoured matter surrounding it and turned it into the glowing disk you can see here.

6. The supermassive black hole at the heart of active galaxy NGC 3783.

ESO/M. Kornmesser / Via eso.org

Active galaxy NGC 3783 in the southern constellation of Centaurus harbours a must-see black hole at its centre. Observations by the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile have shown that the black hole is surrounded by a doughnut of hot dust. If you can't take the heat, its polar regions have a wind of cool material that's currently pushing dust away from the black hole.

7. This black hole (relatively) close to Earth.

ESA/Hubble / Via en.wikipedia.org

Just 6000 light years from Earth, Cygnus X-1 is one of the easiest black holes to visit. At 14.8 times the mass of the sun, it's a baby in black hole terms, but still massive enough to pull apart its blue supergiant binary partner. Don't get too close, though: Its event horizon spins around more than 800 times a second.

8. This black hole that's stifling star formation.

NASA/JPL-Caltech / Via photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov

In elliptical galaxies, black holes don't just suck in matter. They seem to stop new stars forming in the first place. Baby stars need gas to form, and black holes are thought to heat it up and blast it away – bad for anyone in a stellar nursery, but good news for anyone looking for a spectacular light show (in infrared, at least).

9. The black hole that is creating this galactic jet in galaxy PKS 0521-36.

Dana Berry (STScI) / Via spacetelescope.org

Deep within the core of galaxy PKS 0521-36 lies a massive, spinning black hole. Nearby gas and stars are drawn in, and the high temperature and pressure near the black hole chew them up and spit them out in the form of a breathtaking jet of particles traveling at almost the speed of light, making it well worth a visit.