A Real Space Monster

The Hubble telescope finds hard evidence that giant black holes exist, and not just in Einstein's equations

To hear people talk, there are "black holes" all around us: the U.S. deficit, the Russian economy, the Chicago Post Office. They are found wherever things seem to disappear wholesale without leaving a trace. Ever since Princeton physicist John Wheeler coined the term in 1967 to describe an object whose gravity is so powerful that it swallows everything around it -- even light -- this bizarre concept, which first emerged from Einstein's equations of general relativity, has been part of everyday language.

While journalists and ordinary folks have been throwing the expression around loosely, astronomers have been searching for the real...

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