One of my earliest memories is standing with my father on the balcony of my grandmother’s house in Auckland. “Ma’s House” had a spectacular view northwards, across Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, and the Moon was visible in the early evening sky. Following my eye, my father pointed and said, “I think there are people there at the moment.”
These images will show us the environment of the black hole itself, test Einstein’s understanding of gravity, and give unprecedented proof that black holes truly exist in our universe. Because seeing really is believing. Even for scientists.
Each galaxy lives within its own three-dimensional halo of dark matter whose gravitational field corrals the stars within it. Without the stars, the halo would still be there, albeit invisible to our eyes; but if the halo vanished, the stars would scatter into the depths of the universe – just as a Christmas tree remains a tree with or without the pretty lights. Whereas without the tree, the lights would merely be a puddle of colour on the snowy ground.
Imagine living in a world where walking and biking was as safe – by Commander Hadfield's measure – as flying in space.
This is the week the Nobel Prizes are announced, and today is the day (at least in New Zealand; first place in the world to see the light, as the tourist people say) the Physics prize is announced. And this year the odds-on favourite will be LIGO and the discovery of gravitational waves.