Astrophysics Goes Down the Rabbit Hole

Over at The New York Times, Dennis Overbye reports:

Astronomers are reporting that they have taken the measure of the biggest, baddest black holes yet found in the universe, abyssal yawns 10 times the size of our solar system into which billions of Suns have vanished like a guilty thought.

Such  holes, they say, might be the gravitational cornerstones of galaxies and clues to the fates of violent quasars, the almost supernaturally powerful explosions in the hearts of young galaxies that dominated the early years of the  universe.

My understanding of astrophysics can fit in a neutrino.  But black holes are just so weird and cool, like something out of those science-fantasy books I read voraciously in sixth grade. Really: a space where gravity is so strong that light can't escape? A hole in the universe that could swallow our solar system without a burp? It's cooler than anything J.J. Abrams could invent. Meanwhile, other scientists have confirmed that some neutrinos can travel faster than light. Warp speed, Scotty!

Go check out the illustrations while I think about giant sandworms and hyperspeed.

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