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IF you wonder if you can see a black hole the answer is yes and no. The reason is that a black hole its self can’t be directly seen. The reason is that everything we see with the human eye is the result of electromagnetic radiation being reflected back from an object. We see different colors when all but one portion of the visible light spectrum is absorbed by something. The colors black and white are the result of light being completely absorbed or completely reflected.
A black hole is a sinkhole of massive gravity caused when a dying star collapses under the sheer force of its own gravity. The pull is so powerful it warps space time for light years around it and not even light can escape it. Given what was just covered we would assume that black holes are invisible. For the most part that would be true except for the fact that black holes are messy eaters. If an object falls past the event horizon or border of a black hole, a flash of radiation escapes at the last moment. This is momentary for smaller objects but if it is something as massive as a star then you really see fireworks. This is how scientists and astronomers have been able to detect them.
Otherwise you normally wouldn’t see a black hole unless you knew what you were looking for. Here are some things that are characteristic of black holes. The part of it past the event horizon is literally invisible. If your were to look at an area of stars known to have black holes you would like not see much of a difference. You would see the light from the stars in the region only with a slightly darker area. That is because the light emitted by matter that falls into a black hole is quite intense.
Up until recently black holes were only a theoretical concept. Scientists could not start finding them until technology allowed for telescopes with better detection capabilities. This allowed for astronomers to start tracking celestial objects that emitted radiation. Right now there are only computer generated models of black holes. However improvement in the technology of radio telescopes and other detection devices will allow us to one day get a perfect picture of what does a black hole look like.
If you’d like more info on black holes, check out NASA Science Page about Black Holes, and here’s more information from NASA from their educational pages.
We’ve also recorded an episode of Astronomy Cast all about black holes. Listen here, Episode 18: Black Holes Big and Small.