NASA spacecraft snaps a fortuitous shot of a black hole 30,000 light-years away
Gif: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/MIT/Harvard
Sometimes the best photos are taken by accident. NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft was exploring an asteroid not far from Earth when it unexpectedly caught sight of a black hole 30,000 light-years away.
What they found: OSIRIS-REx detected the black hole using an instrument designed to measure the effect solar particles are having on its target asteroid, Bennu.
- The spacecraft was able to spot the black hole as it ate material from its companion star, causing the system to glow in X-ray light.
- Japan's MAXI telescope first discovered the black hole system — named MAXI J0637-430 — in November 2019, with NASA's NICER also detecting the X-rays emitted by the binary not long after.