How to Find a Black Hole

Okay, good question. How the heck do you find an object that emits no radiation? Astronomers find—and study—just about everything in the universe using the radiation it emits or reflects. So…what happens when the object we’re looking for has such a strong gravitational pull that even light can’t escape?

Well, that’s when we need to turn to the theoretical science behind black holes. What measurable effects do they have on objects in their vicinity? Can we detect them indirectly?

Of course, some of you might be screaming at me that we’ve already photographed a black hole—in visual wavelengths! Yes, astronomers did make that achievement—we now have visual proof that what we’ve been theorizing all along is indeed real.

But that black hole was so faint, it took an interferometer the size of the Earth to image. We had to know exactly where to look in order to get that picture.

So how the heck do we find one in the first place?

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