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December 8, 2011

Most mind-bending graphic of the year

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It's above.

The caption: "An illustration of a black hole the size of nearly 10 billion Suns. Inside it, where gravity is so intense that not even light can escape, our solar system is shown to scale."

The illustration by Pete Marenfeld of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory accompanied Dennis Overbye's article in Tuesday's New York Times about the discovery of two monster black holes, the most massive ever measured, the larger of the two weighing as much as 21 billion Suns.

Actually, the illustration markedly understates just how huge these stupendous structures are.

Overbye wrote that they are "abyssal yawns 10 times the size of our solar system."

The graphic shows one 10 times the diameter of our solar system but since the black hole is circular — or possibly spherical, or even other-dimensioned in a way we cannot even imagine — the black hole actually might be 75 (area of a circle = πr2) or 500 times (volume of a sphere = 4/3 πr3) the size of our solar system, itself unfathomable in scope by Earthly measures.

As Shakespeare wrote in "Hamlet": "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." 

December 8, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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Comments

It is a PET scan of a representative sample of the minds of US politicians. The big hole is the World's financial sector.

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Dec 9, 2011 1:33:40 AM

Whew! makes me think too much as I lie in bed. It's what again? Really?

Posted by: Frisky | Dec 8, 2011 10:34:42 PM

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