Well thing is, when we see a black hole, we don't actually see the black hole. What we see is the hot mire of loose material that is gathering around the black hole before it falls in, which completely surrounds and obscures it from view - although much of this stuff tends to gather in a rotating disk-like area around it (it's even called the "accretion disk"). This cloud of stuff speeds up and becomes more dense the closer it gets to the black hole - like water circling a drain, pretty much - and at a certain speed and density, it starts to give off radiation - heat, and then light. And then eventually radiation much more energetic than light - x-rays and gamma rays. But it's this stuff that was observed to increase in brightness so dramatically recently.I'm still trying to wrap my head around what exactly is 75 times brighter than total darkness...
No, the hole, whose name is Sagittarius A*, is still black. What we observe is the "accretion disk" of stuff orbiting the hole before it falls in. Tidal forces around this hole are so strong, they can rip stars apart, and shred anything else that gets too close. The flare-up is likely a stream of ripped-apart stuff that hit the accretion disk at a significant fraction of the speed of light. That releases an enormous amount of energy.Does that mean it's now a gray hole?
"Everyone must know about my greatest accomplishment!"
Well OK then!
As of 6:43am ET today, the X-37B spaceplane’s fifth mission, dubbed the Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV-5), will have spent 719 days in orbit—just 11 days shy of a full two years circling the globe. The previous record was 717 days, 20 hours and 42 minutes, achieved just a few years earlier with OTV-4.
All we know about the 29-foot long spaceplane’s mission comes from the Air Force description, which is light on details, to say the least:
The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, or OTV, is an experimental test program to demonstrate technologies for a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform for the U.S. Air Force. The primary objectives of the X-37B are twofold; reusable spacecraft technologies for America’s future in space and operating experiments which can be returned to, and examined, on Earth.
I love this thing. I don't know what it's for or what it's actually doing, so I'm probably gonna end up regretting fanboying over it when it's revealed some day that it's like some gamma-ray weapon that's been assassinating people all this time; but until that day, I love it.The U.S. Air Force’s Boeing X-37B spaceplane broke a record yesterday for the most amount of time in orbit around the Earth. But we still don’t know when the uncrewed plane is going to land or even what it’s doing up there. All of the details about the X-37B mission are classified.gizmodo.com