By now, you will have seen the photo of the black hole. It may even have a cuddly name at this point: Hell’s Polo Mint, FAI at the Oireachtas, or just Holey. It was the big news of the week.Literally big. The numbers are staggering. The black hole has the mass of six billion times the sun. To try and comprehend that, think about the mass of the sun. Now, think about something that’s way, way mass-ier. And then add a load more mass. That’s how heavy we’re talking.With that scale, you could be forgiven for being a little disappointed that the photo looked a bit blurry, that it didn’t come with a soundtrack. And maybe you were expecting spaceships to be skirting it, reloading their warp-drives with energon.But that’s what you get when you turn a planet into a telescope, point it to something 55m years in the past, and gather five petabyes of information. A petabyte is a million gigabytes, or a gillion migabytes. That’s nearly half the amount of racism uploaded to YouTube in a month.The scientists look happy with the photo. It looked like what they were expecting. It’s such a tantalising subject, because it is… Read full this story
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