Considering that a black hole's gravity prevents light from escaping, how can a black hole emit X-rays? Visible light and X-rays are both electromagnetic radiation, shouldn't the black hole's gravity prevent X-rays from escaping?
The X-rays come from hot gas orbiting around the black hole in an accretion disk. As the gas orbits, magnetic stresses cause it to lose energy and angular momentum, thus spiralling slowly in towards the black hole. The orbital energy is transformed into thermal energy, heating up the gas to millions of degrees, so it then emits blackbody radiation in the X-ray band.
Once the gas gets closer than a few times the horizon radius, it plunges into the black hole, so while some X-rays can still escape just before the horizon, most are emitted a fair bit outside.Tweet