“The Eye was rimmed with fire, but was itself glazed, yellow as a cat’s, watchful and intent, and the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing.” — J.R.R. Tolkien
On Thursday, May 5, a newly unveiled image of glowing entity with a dark hole in the middle made headlines. Is it the Eye of Sauron? No! It’s the first image of our Milky Way galaxy’s hometown black hole, captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). Like many of its kind, our very own supermassive black hole has such intense gravity that it bends space and time, forming a torus of light with an infinite void in the center. Previously, the only confirmed presence of a comparable void was at the heart of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The mass of this entity, known as Sagittarius A* or Sgr A* due to its proximity to the Sagittarius constellation when seen from Earth, is equal to more than four million suns, and it reaches temperatures in the trillions of degrees. It’s also known to casually consume stars. Luckily, if anything can hold up against the sucking void of eternal space-time, it is the confidence of a Sagittarius (what up, my fellow archers)!
Despite the cosmic volatility inherent to black holes, Feryal Özel, a University of Arizona astronomer, characterized the find in more benevolent terms, calling the achievement “the first direct image of the gentle giant in the center of our galaxy.”
“We find a bright ring surrounding the black hole shadow,” Özel told the Washington Post. “It seems that black holes like doughnuts.”
It’s difficult to detect, but we believe the scientist made a joke there — however, it’s now only a matter of minutes before some ambitious, nerdy baker starts churning out Sgr A* doughnuts, which I’m envisioning as a Mexican dark chocolate cake base with lava cake filling and a bright lemon-orange citrus glaze. That idea is free to anyone who will send me one dozen of them immediately.
This is a win for the EHT array, which links together eight existing radio observatories across the planet to form a single Earth-sized virtual telescope, and boldly set out to photograph black holes in 2017. Their first success came in 2019, when they pulled off a snapshot of the black hole in the heart of the Messier 87 galaxy, located some 55 million light-years away from Earth. But this new image is much closer to home and was a true collective effort, drawing on contributions from more than 300 scientists at 80 institutions, supported by the National Science Foundation.
“What’s more cool than seeing the black hole at the center of our Milky Way?” said team member Katherine Bouman, a computational imaging scientist at Caltech. Bouman developed a crucial algorithm for the imaging methods as a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Science has done its part. Now it’s all up to memelords and bakers to transform this astronomical achievement into bite-sized victories (and, again, send me doughnuts).
Arriving amid increased anti-Asian racism and continuing discourse about the inhumanity of its prison system, this documentary is a strong historical gut punch.
A “show within a show” at the Whitney Biennial pays homage to the visual and literary art of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, whose life was cut short through an act of brutal violence.
The Newark Museum of Art Presents Jazz Greats: Classic Photographs from the Bank of America Collection
Photographers Antony Armstrong Jones, Milt Hinton, Chuck Stewart, Barbara Morgan, and more capture a breadth of legendary and local musicians and performance artists. On view through August 21.
Social media persona Sad Beige Werner Herzog presents a seemingly endless array of sniffling tots stuffed into gray, brown, and tan knits.
A new Bronx location for the Universal Hip Hop Museum is set to open its doors in 2024.
Art and photographs, publications from the 19th and 20th centuries, manuscripts, posters and more are set to cross the auction block on August 18.
Researchers at the University of South Florida have created a tool that can potentially help hone human concentration through the creation of art with only the power of the mind.
The settlement comes after Tate prevented an artist who exposed sexual harassment by one of its largest donors from co-curating an exhibition.
Let’s be honest: On a best bathrooms list, no one wants to be number two.
Advocacy groups are pushing for a 5% royalty in resales, which would pertain even after the artist dies, in which case the funds would go to their estate.
This week, the Getty Museum is returning ancient terracottas to Italy, parsing an antisemitic mural at Documenta, an ancient gold find in Denmark, a new puritanism, slavery in early Christianity, and much more.