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Image #5
An artist's conception of an active galaxy with a supermassive black hole in its center, but without jets.

Image #6
An artist's depiction of a black hole's gravitational potential well. Einstein showed that the Universe can be thought of as a giant flat sheet of fabric called spacetime. Objects with mass put "dents" into the fabric. The depth of the dent is related to the mass of the object. A black hole creates such a deep dent that it essentially rips a hole through the fabric of spacetime.

Image #7
This rendition by an artist shows the spiraling of material from a normal star to a black hole. A hot spot is created where the new material hits the existing accretion disk and X-rays are emitted as the material spirals into the black hole and heats up.

Image #8
A depiction of matter gaining speed as it spirals toward the black hole. Once the material crosses the event horizon, it is no longer detectable.


An astronomy and astrophysics site for the high school and college student. It also contains lesson plans for math and science teachers. The site is maintained by the Astrophysics Science Division at NASA/GSFC.
Dr. John Simonetti of the Department of Physics at Virginia Tech responds to questions about black holes frequently asked by K-12 students.
This is an online educational exhibit about black holes and their associated phenomenon provided by the University of Illinois.
The StarChild Web site is written by teachers for students in K-8. The site is continually updated and includes information on diverse astronomy topics including black holes. Activities are included in order to reinforce the concepts discussed in the text.

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Imagine the Universe is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Imagine Team
Acting Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2012.

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