Scientists just saw light coming from around a black hole for the first time

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the light as emanating from within a black hole, rather than beside it. Corrections have been made to reflect this small but important distinction.

In the epitomizing blackness of space, few natural phenomena can compete with the darkness of black holes. After all, with their inexorable gravitational pull, nothing, not even light, can be seen … right? Well, mostly. Last week, for the first time ever, scientists observed visible light emanating from beside a black hole with nothing more than a 20 cm. telescope.

Apparently, the rather beautiful phenomena occurs when, as the Guardian explains, “material from surrounding space falls into them and releases violent bursts of light.” Essentially, when some matter is sucked into one of these massive pits of gravity, they emit an incredible amount of energy, which can manifest itself as light. When this happens, it looks like we’re seeing light coming out of a black hole.

Back in June of 2015, a team of scientists led by Mariko Kimura of Kyoto University, became the first to ever see this sort of light through a telescope when a black hole named V404 Cygni, one of the closest to planet Earth, began showing activity after lying dormant for 26 years. Around every six and a half days, Cygni and its partner star (a celestial body a bit smaller than the sun) would circle one another, and when the black hole came to life again, it began feasting on the star. For two weeks, the astronomers were able to see flashes of light — some lasting just minutes, while others continued for several hours — as Cygni worked its magic.

“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.”

Product Review

It's a shame the U.S. banned Huawei. The new Honor 20 Pro is a kick-ass phone

Where does Honor go after the Honor View 20, the best device it has ever made? The answer is the Honor 20 Pro, which takes what made the View 20 great, and then improves on it by adding more camera lenses and shrinking the size.
Emerging Tech

Scientists use an X-ray laser to create the loudest possible underwater sound

Researchers from Stanford University and the Department of Energy have produced the loudest sound possible to make under water. Here's how they managed to create it — and why they did it.
Emerging Tech

Two galaxies play tug of war in this spectacular Hubble image

Hubble has captured evidence of a nearby galactic neighbor affecting the the shape and star production of a galaxy. The irregular galaxy NGC 4485 has been pulled into an unusual shape due to the nearby and much larger galaxy NGC 4490.
Movies & TV

Skip the flowers and sunshine this spring and watch the best shows on Hulu

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Emerging Tech

First, it was San Francisco. Now, the U.K. is fighting facial recognition

The U.K.'s first legal battle over police use of facial recognition has kicked off. The case involves a citizen who alleges the tech was used against him in a breach of his privacy.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk thinks Starlink satellite internet could be online before 2021

Elon Musk's ultra-ambitious Starlink space internet project may take until November 2027 to be fully operational. However, some level of service could be offered as soon as next year.
Emerging Tech

The rise and reign of Starship, the world’s first robotic delivery provider

Excited about the impending delivery robot revolution? If so, you need to get familiar with Starship Technologies, the company which pioneered the whole thing. Here's what you need to know.
News

Has purpose become a punchline? Among startups, the debate rages

Tech companies pledging to do good as they make money hand over fist has become a Silicon Valley punchline, but beneath the jeering, a real debate is playing out among startup founders and the investors who fund them.
Emerging Tech

This guy managed to squeeze an entire game console into a Game Boy cartridge

Popular YouTuber 3DSage has managed to compress an entire mobile games console inside a single original Game Boy cartridge. Check it out in all in its impressively miniaturized glory.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s bipedal delivery robot can walk straight up to your doorstep

Autonomous wheeled delivery robots are seemingly everywhere in 2019. Agility Robotics' Digit robot takes a different approach: It promises to carry out its deliveries while walking on two legs.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Huawei updates, Starlink launch, and Pac-Man’s birthday

On this episode of DT Live, we discuss the ongoing Huawei saga, Amazon’s social games for workers, Ford's partnership with a robotics company, the Starlink satellite launch, Pac-Man’s birthday, and more.
Emerging Tech

Las Vegas officials bet big on Elon Musk’s Boring Company

Elon Musk’s Boring Company has just been awarded a $48.6 million contract by Las Vegas to build a high-speed transportation system beneath the city’s enormous convention center, and it could be ready by early 2020.
Emerging Tech

Airbus shows off the futuristic interior of its autonomous flying taxi

Airbus has given us the first look inside its single-seat flying taxi. The absence of controls in the Vahana electric aircraft is a reflection of its autonomous capabilities, so you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Emerging Tech

I mainlined a bag of liquid vitamins — for science

Healthy people are signing up for treatments that are typically saved for patients stuck in hospital beds. Known as nutrient IV therapy, the treatment entails pumping vitamins, minerals, and fluids directly into the bloodstream, bypassing…