NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
April 12, 2023
This page provides social media assets used during previous celebrations of Black Hole Week. The world of Black Hole Week is populated by a fun bunch of characters, including a little blue explorer (called the Traveler) and their cosmic friends.
Below, you'll find tons of GIFs to download and use if you want to join in!
A black hole is a superdense object in space. Its surface, called an event horizon, is a boundary beyond which everything, including light, cannot escape. At its heart is a point where gravity and density are infinite – the singularity.
The singularity is the spot at (quite literally) the center of all the action in a black hole! Unfortunately, this post card will never escape the black hole.
Black holes are typically found in two different sizes, smaller stellar-mass ones and huge supermassive ones.
While we know about small and big black holes, it’s also possible that black holes may have formed back at the beginning of the universe when everything was just really packed together. However, if they do exist, we haven’t detected them yet.
Black holes are often detected by how they affect their surroundings, which can include finding material orbiting an invisible object.
If you have a keen eye, you might be able to catch a glimpse of a black hole by looking at its surroundings.
Black holes can bend light that’s passing them, which is called gravitational lensing.
Black holes are safe, from a distance.
The region near a black hole might have glowing stuff in a disk around it and some radiation, so getting too close is inadvisable.
Black holes often love to dance with other objects in the universe. In this GIF, our black hole has a high-mass star as a partner.
We also find black holes and low-mass stars orbiting each other.
Black holes can also partner with white dwarfs, which is what low-mass stars become at the ends of their lives.
Neutron stars can also orbit black holes. These ultra-dense objects have powerful magnetic fields.
If a star and black hole get too close together, the black hole will pull material from its companion.
While black holes themselves are indeed black, they can also be bright sources of light, putting on a great show if anything gets a bit too close. Often, this stuff can turn into an accretion disk, which is basically just a bunch of gas, dust, and other stuff … circling the black hole in, well, a disk.
Stuff like gas, dust, snacks, potatoes, missing left socks, or even stars could orbit a black hole.
Supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies can gather up more than gas and dust. They can collect stars and even smaller black holes, too.
Anything that wanders too close to a black hole can be torn apart and pulled in. This is called a tidal disruption event.
Black holes can launch powerful jets of matter moving at near the speed of light. A little bit of the surrounding stuff falls toward the black hole but gets thrown out.
Jets from black holes can create quite a light show.
Supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies can launch giant, powerful jets into space, which can be viewed across the universe.
Astronomers study black holes with a combination of ground- and space-based telescopes and other detectors.
The Traveler is always sure to carry their helpful brochure with tips, tricks, and facts they’ll need to safely visit a black hole.
The Traveler’s black hole field guide is the perfect way to learn more about these elusive objects.