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Darkness Visible, Finally: Astronomers Capture First Ever Image of a Black Hole

The first image of a black hole, from the galaxy Messier 87.CreditCredit Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, via National Science Foundation

The first image of a black hole, from the galaxy Messier 87.CreditCredit
Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, via National Science Foundation

Astronomers announced on Wednesday that at last they had captured an image of the unobservable: a black hole, a cosmic abyss so deep and dense that not even light can escape it. For years, and for all the mounting scientific evidence, black holes have remained marooned in the imaginations of artists and the algorithms of splashy computer models of the kind used in Christopher Nolan's outer-space epic “Interstellar.” Now they are more real than ever.

“We have seen what we thought was unseeable,” said Shep Doeleman, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and director of the effort to capture the image, during a Wednesday news conference in Washington, D.C. The image, of a lopsided ring of light surrounding a dark circle deep in the heart of a galaxy known as Messier 87, some 55 million light-years away from Earth, resembled the Eye of Sauron, a reminder yet again of the implacable power of nature. It is a smoke ring framing a one-way portal to eternity.

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From The New Yorker: Four Women Accuse New York’s Attorney General of Physical Abuse

From The New Yorker: Four Women Accuse New York’s Attorney General of Physical Abuse

Update: Three hours after the publication of this story, Schneiderman resigned from his position. “While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time,” he said in a statement. “I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018.”

Illustration by Oliver Munday; Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty (man)