By John Ostapkovich
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Maybe National Geographic magazine will rename itself Galactic Geographic because this month’s cover story is about something we ought to be glad is very far away.
The subject is black holes, those remnants of massive collapsed stars that produce such extreme gravity that even light can’t escape.
Star Eater is the title of Michael Finkel’s look at the ultimate rabbit hole in the Universe, the black hole. Matter goes in and nothing comes out, at least in the short term, because gravity is so extreme even light is trapped.
The timing of this article is just before astronomers train several radio and x-ray telescopes on Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way.
But aren’t black holes invisible?
“You’ll be able to see the accretion disc, a ring of sort of crumbs from this cloud that’s being devoured and that’s really the picture we’re going to be taking. It’s going to look a little bit like a total eclipse of the sun with the corona around it.”
This ring of fire will be 24,000 light years away.