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The Question

(Submitted March 18, 1997)

We are deeply indebted to you if you can help us in obtaining two representative images about: 1)the real image (picture) of a "black hole" (photographed) 2)the most distant part of the Universe ever photographed.

The Answer

1) There are no "real" pictures of a black hole. This is because black holes themselves do not emit of reflect any light (that's why they are called black holes), and they are too small and too far away to be imaged. There are images of binary star systems consisting of one normal star and one black hole, and of the central regions of Galaxies that are believed to contain black holes. There are some examples of the latter, taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, at: http://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/PR/97/01.html

But these pictures don't actually show a black hole, you need to study the motion of stars to infer that there must be a black hole.

2) Again, you may want to look at some Hubble pictures (with explanations): http://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/PR/94/52.html

These are some of the most distant galaxies ever photographed; although some quasars are believed to be more distant, they make boring photographs (they just look like a point of light).

Best wishes,

Koji Mukai

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