Stars Orbiting Black Holes

Above, we bring you what astro­physi­cist Daniel Holz calls “one of the coolest movies in all of sci­ence.” What you see here is not exact­ly straight­for­ward. But it’s the work of UCLA astronomer Andrea Ghez, and it essen­tial­ly shows stars orbit­ing around a super­mas­sive black hole at the cen­ter of our galaxy over the past 15 earth years. Accord­ing to Holz, these orbits, filmed with the largest tele­scopes in the world on Mau­na Kea, are sim­ply “one of the best ways (short of the detec­tion of grav­i­ta­tion­al waves from black hole merg­ers) of con­firm­ing that black holes exist.” And it’s quite right­ly an “incred­i­ble feat of obser­va­tion­al astron­o­my.” For more, read Holz’s piece on Dis­cov­er’s Cos­mic Vari­ance blog. Anoth­er big thanks to Mike for pass­ing this one our way…

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