Learning With: ‘Darkness Visible, Finally: Astronomers Capture First Ever Image of a Black Hole’

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Learning With: ‘Darkness Visible, Finally: Astronomers Capture First Ever Image of a Black Hole’

Now, read the article, “Darkness Visible, Finally: Astronomers Capture First Ever Image of a Black Hole,” and answer the following questions:

1. Why was the announcement that astronomers had captured an image of a black hole big news? Why did many believe this was not possible?

2. What exactly is a black hole? Describe one in your own words.

3. Where is the black hole, Sagittarius A*? How far is it from the Earth? How does its mass compare to that of our sun?

4. Dennis Overbye, the author, writes, “The image offered a final, ringing affirmation of an idea so disturbing that even Einstein, from whose equations black holes emerged, was loath to accept it.” What does he mean by this statement? What was so disturbing to Einstein about the idea of black holes? How does the image confirm his predictions about the nature of them?

5. How does the Event Horizon Telescope work? What challenges did the Event Horizon team face in capturing the picture of the black hole? How is the image different from a traditional photograph?

Finally, tell us more about what you think:

— What is your reaction to the first image of a black hole presented to the world on Wednesday? Mr. Overbye says the black hole looks like the Eye of Sauron from “The Lord of the Rings.” What do you think of when you see it?

— “What a time to be alive,” Janna Levin, a cosmologist, said in response to the release of the image. Do you agree with her sentiment? Why is an image of an entity from 55 million light-years away from Earth useful? How does the discovery affect how you think about and understand the universe?

— There are still many unknowns about black holes, such as what is inside a black hole and how exactly you would die if you were to be sucked into one. Which of these is most intriguing to you and why?

— The image of the Sagittarius A* black hole has already become a popular meme. Scroll through these memes and then create your own original one using the image. The meme can be funny, poignant or inspiring, and should express your reaction to the extraordinary picture.