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Devourer of stars. Ender of time. Glittering Eye of Sauron?
Astronomers have revealed the first-ever images of a black hole, which presents the celestial destroyer as a dark circle surrounded by a reddish ring of matter. A landmark affirmation of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, scientists in six cities spread across three continents simultaneously unveiled their findings on the phenomenon on Wednesday.
Scientific observations over the last 60 years have increasingly demonstrated that objects exist in the Universe whose gravitational fields are so intense that they can warp spacetime such that light cannot escape beyond a point of no return. Accordingly, the image is not a “photograph” of the black hole but a vision of the effects gravity has on radio waves emitted from matter surrounding the black hole. Because gravity distorts spacetime itself, light becomes deflected into a circular funnel of shadows illustrated by the image.
Yesterday’s results are the product of 10 years of research by astronomers with the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration, which consists of a network of radio antennas and two years of computer analysis based on the system’s observations. The telescope array is named after the edge of a black hole where time stands still and gravity warps space into its almost-unfathomable gravitational pull. The effort wouldn’t have been possible without Katie Bouman, who developed a crucial algorithm for the imaging methods while she was a graduate student in computer science and artificial intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Three years ago, another system called the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO, detected the collision of a pair of distant black holes, which rippled through the Universe. Several other collisions have been detected by astronomers ever since; now this clash of giants has a face.
But what that face resembles, exactly, is up for interpretation. Most everyone, including the New York Times, has compared the black hole to the Eye of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings trilogy — a symbol of ultimate evil. Located some 55 million light-years away from Earth in the heart of the Messier 87 galaxy, the hazy ring of unbalanced light contains a mass some 6.5 billion times that of our sun. A swirl of cosmic matter, the black hole does somewhat resemble artistic interpretations of the past but with a less-fantastical smattering of starlight. And contemporary entertainment like the movies Interstellar and High Life have imagined more beautiful versions of the black hole with sparkling stardust and blinding light.
Art historically, the black hole resembles something modernist, like a color-field painting or a piece of optical art. The work of Wojciech Fangor comes to mind; his blurry, dichromatic circular paintings
From an art historical angle, the black hole resembles something modernist, like a Color-field painting or a piece of Op art. The work of Wojciech Fangor comes to mind; his blurry dichromatic creations from the sixties are similarly circular, mysterious, and disconcerting. Or the art of Jack Goldstein, specifically his “Untitled” (1988), which blurs the boundaries between painted and digital image.
And as is their tech-given rite, social media users have seized upon the black hole like cats to a cosmos-obliterating ball of yarn. “Of course we get to see a black hole before a Brexit deal,” wryly remarked journalist Claire Barthelemy on Twitter.
I knew it pic.twitter.com/Q7lGUozOtE
— Claire Barthelemy (@cbtly) April 10, 2019
ladies, if he:
-doesn’t text back
-takes up all your energy
-used to be a star
-doesn’t like having his picture taken
-is 6.5 million times the mass of the sun
he’s not your man. he’s a black hole
— 烤警察.acab (@andrealongchu) April 10, 2019
But what has united most people around the black hole is a firm belief that it resembles delicious baked goods like bagels, dougnuts, and South Indian vadas.
— Cup Shup (@CupShup_pk) April 11, 2019
— ᴋᴀᴘᴘᴜᴜ ? (@being_kappaa) April 11, 2019
There’s also a contingent of people online who believe the black hole belongs to cats.
— Karma The Deermin ? (@KarmaTheDeermin) April 11, 2019
— Madi (@madddssss132) April 10, 2019
And naturally, companies have already used the galactic marvel for marketing purposes…
— Pepsi (@pepsi) April 10, 2019
Archeologists can now prove the Vikings made landfall in the Americas hundreds of years before Columbus reached the Bahamas.
This week, the National Gallery of Art finally acquired a major work by Faith Ringgold, the director of The Velvet Underground talks film, North America’s Hindu Nationalist problem, canceling legacy admissions, and more.
No Vacancy, curated by Jody Graf, will be on view from October 26 through November 8 at the school’s Kellen Gallery in New York City.
Sculptures of Oaxacan alebrijes, envisioned as guardians of the nation’s immigrant community, and catrinas, Day of the Dead skeletons, are now at Rockefeller Center.
“I am trying to keep the immediacy of my emotional experience while I’m painting.”
Art by Athena LaTocha, Wendy Red Star, Marianne Nicolson, Anita Fields, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith & Neal Ambrose-Smith, and more is on view through January 2022.
The intention behind the seemingly bizarre combination was, according to Attie, “to give visual form to the shared American and Brazilian reality of nationalistic divisions that defines our political present.”
Nowhere in the museums’ advertising blitzkrieg for the performance were we told to bring our wildfire-season masks as well as our covid masks, and covid masks don’t prevent smoke inhalation.