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I recently encountered my first black hole, on my way out to Jaques Station. I knew it was coming, as I'd specifically selected it as the end of one of the legs on my journey, but that did not make my arrival to it any less hair-raising.

This is because, upon emerging from witch-space, when I checked my navigation scanner I found that I was mere megameters away from it.

I didn't even bother turning to enjoy the view at that moment - I just pointed my main thrusters at it and hauled myself out to at least a dozen light-seconds away before stopping.

When I could finally start breathing easy, I did dare to venture a bit closer. However, I'd quit the game of "interstellar chicken" whenever my scanners changed their measurement unit from light-seconds to megameters. (I think that's usually at several hundred Mm.)

The gravitational lensing of a black hole is certainly more spectacular as you get closer to it. So I would love to be able to get even closer, to observe the maximum effect. But, knowing the nature of a black hole, this is not something I want to casually risk doing. (At least, not while I'm thousands of Ly outside the bubble.)

So, what's the closest distance that can be considered "safe" for observation of a black hole? If this varies by the size of the black hole, is there a way I can derive it from scan data? Are there other signs I can look for, to know when I'm approaching the safety limit before I breach it?

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Fortunately (or unfortunately) depending on your outlook, Frontier did not model black hole behavior accurately. You can approach it just like any other stellar object(that's not a star) and be pretty OK.

to prove this, several CMDRs flew through a black hole.

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  • 1
    added another more recent video.
    – Rapitor
    Aug 29 '16 at 13:54
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    It is surprisingly difficult to find videos and information, because most CMDRs are like you, rightfully terrified of a Black Hole.
    – Rapitor
    Aug 29 '16 at 14:37
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    You can actually bounce off the body exclusion zone of most black holes without serious (or any) damage. Just don't try it at The Great Annihilator or Sagittarius A*...
    – JonK
    Aug 29 '16 at 15:40
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    Well, so much for "Dangerous"... Aug 29 '16 at 18:31
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    @JonK Thanks for the info. I went ahead and tested this whole thing at another black hole on my way to Jaques. Actually got to the point where the system posted an alert telling me I'd reached the Body Exclusion Zone. Dunno if it's because I was going pretty slowly or what, but I never really "felt" anything there - without the alert, I might not have realized anything had happened at all. It was pretty odd. Actually being able to get "inside" a black hole was really cool though.
    – Iszi
    Aug 30 '16 at 16:26
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As Rapitor has noted in their answer, it is currently safe to approach most black holes even to the point of reaching the "Body Exclusion Zone" if they have one.

Personally, I've made this a bit of a hobby now. Whenever I find a black hole that's in a place with an interesting view, I'll go "faceplant" it and get as close as I can.

Different ships handle heat differently, so be mindful of your own ship's tolerance for this. However, most black holes do not emanate much heat if any.

The process for approaching a black hole is rather simple, and similar to entering other unmarked locations of interest such as planetary rings without a Resource Extraction Site. Just approach it slowly, keeping an eye on your ship's speed and heat levels. Make sure the ship isn't accumulating heat faster than it can tolerate, and get your speed under 1 Mm/s before you're forced out of Supercruise.

After the emergency drop from Supercruise though, is where black holes can get a little weird. Here, you run into one of two cases:

1. The black hole has a Body Exclusion Zone properly implemented.

You'll be able to fly towards the black hole for a little while. Probably just a couple boost's worth. Then, suddenly, your ship will stop moving towards it. Even with full throttle and boost, you won't be able to get any closer and your HUD will show an alert "Body Exclusion Zone Hit".

Most black holes I've encountered have this at around 20-40 km. However, there have been some with Body Exclusion Zones greater than 100 km. Then, there's the rare and really big ones like at the Great Annihilator - I don't particularly recall how big that one was when I got there, but I do remember it was bigger than any others I'd seen.

2. The black hole does not have a properly-implemented Body Exclusion Zone.

These are relatively few and far between, and the game developers may be working to fix them. For these black holes, either the Body Exclusion Zone just doesn't exist or it doesn't actually block ships from entering it - I'm not sure which.

What will happen with these, is what's shown in the videos linked by Rapitor. You can effectively fly all the way through the center of these black holes, and the effects are rather spectacular.

IMPORTANT EXCEPTION - SAGITTARIUS A*

Do not attempt a faceplant at the Supermassive Black Hole!

My Asp Explorer generally runs pretty cool. I can typically get that ship out of a faceplant with any star or other object, without taking heat damage and without using heatsinks, and I can sit pretty deep in the corona of most stars for a good few minutes without substantial risk.

But for Sagittarius A*, faceplanting is not an option for that ship. As far out as 40 Ls, the heat levels began to rise rather quickly and I had to abort because I didn't have the spare heatsinks to risk going further.

I might consider trying it again some time, if I build a ship that runs much cooler and packs a lot of heatsinks. If I do though, I will be going in with the full expectation that it is a suicide mission. (Though I'll try to remember to change this answer if I survive!)

WARNING - GREAT ANNIHILATOR

Be careful here!

The black holes at Great Annihilator are absolutely amazing. There are few others like them in the galaxy, and their size makes for some rather spectacular visual effects - especially on your initial entry to the system.

I highly recommend a visit to Great Annihilator if you're ever anywhere near it, but be careful if you want to attempt a faceplant at either of the black holes there. I personally have hit the Body Exclusion Zone on both, but I did notice that the space around them was a bit warmer than most other black holes I've encountered.

Mind your heat levels as you approach these, as you should for any stellar body - including other black holes. If you've got a ship that runs cool enough, you should be able to go in just fine. If your ship can't take the heat though, get it out of the kitchen!

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