Before the scientists have produced the first image of a black hole on 10 April 2019, shining a light on one of the universe’s great mysteries numerous artists tried to draw this phenomena for decades.
A black hole is, by definition, unseeable — a region of space with a gravitational pull so intense light cannot travel outward to bring us an image. But, using the laws of physics and our understanding of the cosmos, scientists were able to recreate what a black hole may look like to a reasonable degree of accuracy.
Interesting how do you draw something we’ve never seen before? Here are the artists’ impressions of black hole the way they imagined it.
1. Roen Kelly, April 2018
This image is a quite accurate depiction of what scientists think a black hole with an accretion disk of hot gas and dust around it might look like. The two rings we see are actually just one; gravity bends the light from the rear of the disk around the black hole on both top and bottom so that it appears perpendicular to the real thing.
2. Lynette Cook. June 2017
Artist illustration of the thick ring of dust that can obscure the energetic processes that occur near the supermassive black hole of an active galactic nuclei.
3. D. Coe, J. Anderson, and R. van der Marel . August 2017
A computer-generated image of what researchers thought a black hole at the center of a galaxy might look like.
4. Space Donut. December 2015
Galaxy NGC 1068 located about 50 million light years away. This picture is an artist’s representation of what the very heart of the galaxy may look like, a shining accretion disk surrounded by a much larger torus of gas.
5. Dana Berry, June 2011
Artist concept of matter swirling around a black hole.
6. Eating gas. Roen Kelly
The supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, Sagittarius A* (pronounced A star) and seen here, will swallow up a large cloud of gas, G2, at some point in the near future.
7. Star Metal. M. Weiss
An artist’s drawing a black hole named Cygnus X-1. It formed when a large star caved in. This black hole pulls matter from blue star beside it.
8. Jean-Pierre Luminet, 1978
Another image from 1978, though this one has bit more grounding in actual data. French astrophysicist Jean-Pierre Luminet made this drawing of a black hole based on calculations of general relativity done with the help of an early IBM punch-card computer.