So Much About Black Holes!

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So Our Timing’s Not Great…

I realize that it just so happened that a major discovery was made concerning astrophysics on the day I happened to drop last week’s Barbarella review, so many of you may not have seen that article.  That’s okay, I get it.  I was in awe, too!  The first real pictures of a black hole!  Not only that but the one at the center of our galaxy!  That’s huge news, and so a silly B-movie review doesn’t seem so important in the face of such awesome universal phenomena.  So, the editorial team here at Space.porn and I decided we’d save our story about the black hole for this week.  And I’m kind of glad we did.

Here’s why:

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) — image.

All of the articles last Wednesday basically told us the same things.  We got to see a black hole’s shadow for the first time ever!  There were millions of articles posted all over the internet about the same details.  Now, a week later, there’s so much more cool stuff to talk about!  It was definitely worth the wait.

Let’s Start With the Basics…

According to Wikipedia (so you know it has to be true), A black hole is a region of spacetime exhibiting such strong gravitational effects that nothing—not even particles and electromagnetic radiation such as light—can escape from inside it.  Our understanding of them has grown slowly since they were first theorized by Einstein in his work on general relativity.  

For most of recent history, it’s been theorized that many black holes are the result of collapsing stars which become so massive and so dense that they warp spacetime around them.  But until last week, we’d never actually seen one. 

Is Seeing Believing?

Well, the reasons we theorized that black holes should exist was because Einstein’s math said they should.  Einstein’s math, turns out, tends to be pretty reliable when it comes to the grand laws of spacetime and relativity.  Over and over again since his death, scientific advances have been made in instrumentation.  And each time scientists used those new instruments to conduct the experiments Einstein never could.  Over and over again, those experiments have proven Einstein’s math right.

We took Einstein’s math, and we built modern macro-physics with it, other brilliant researchers in the mid-twentieth century did more math and built the theories that black holes were collapsing stars, and even though they couldn’t see these black holes, the math said they had to be there.

Now, for the first time, we’re seeing the glow of the event horizon.  We’re seeing light itself get swallowed up by the unimaginable gravitational forces being exerted by that singularity.  We’re getting visual proof, once again, that a patent clerk from Austria who had a hard time with math in school understood more about the universe than anyone else in his time.  

So What’s Next?

Well, a quick scan of Google news prior to writing this article reveals that now we can talk about a bunch of other cool stuff!  

  • Like this headline: We Could Soon Watch a Black Hole in Action, Gobbling Up Matter in Real Time.  That’s right, boys and girls and space fans of all identities, we could actually get to watch this thing eat some stuff soon! (RIP to any and all alien species that may or may not have lost their homeworlds to this terribly awesome and utterly insurmountable force of nature.  We at Space Porn deeply regret your loss, and will not resist when you come to colonize Earth)

  • Or this one:  Now let’s find a pair of black holes.  Wouldn’t that be fun?  To see not one – but a binary pair of these greedy, hungry, hungry, hip-holes dancing around each other?  They’d circle and circle like ships caught in a whirlpool until they collapse together and create a supermassive black hole
  • Or… and this is my favorite: The movement to name the black hole after Chris Cornell!  Look, I was a teenager in the nineties and I grew up in Washington state.  From ’94-’96, I would have told you Layne Staley from Alice in Chains was the greatest rock vocalist alive.  Then he died a few years later (R.I.P. Layne), and so I began calling Cornell the greatest rock vocalist alive.  Over a decade or two, his voice matured so much that he would have beaten Staley hands down.  Then he had to leave us, too.  And I don’t know, I’m just on board with this one.  The man was a musical hero to me, and I think it’d be great if we could do that for him.  On the other hand, there are probably a lot of scientists who deserve their names on this thing more, so who the hell am I to say.

So There’s Lot’s More To Come

We will definitely continue to keep our eyes on the horizon (see what I did there?) to keep you updated about all things black hole related.  In the meantime, if you missed them, you can go back and check out my Barbarella article, or the extra article from Friday about Commercial Space Flight.

Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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