BLACK HOLE CATALOG, Part 3: the Black Hole

Read the “Black Hole Catalog” Part 1 and Part 2

Ten days into the second hottest April on record, a group of researchers at MIT’s Haystack Observatory released an image of a black hole — the first of its kind ever produced. It spread across the Internet like wildfire, leaving a forest of charred memes in its wake. One Twitter user placed the image inside the open mouth of Pre­sident Donald Trump. Another commented on the difference bet­ween the glossy cinematic depictions of black holes we are accustomed to and the out-of-focus real thing, a mirror of the frightening gulf between how you look in a selfie versus a tagged pic. Somebody inserted the image into a stock photo of a wallet, and several users superimposed it onto crotch shots. There were those who imagined how it would feel to fall down to the black hole’s surface, to be stretched thin like a piece of spaghetti. Others said they saw in its obscure center a premonition of the future of our own planet, consumed by the fiery ring of an atmosphere saturated with carbon dioxide. Despite the 318 quintillion-mile distance protecting us from the black hole’s gravitational field, its likeness was perceived as dangerous, threatening — a representation of some dark shit. It was almost as if the image had assumed the power of its subject, sucking up the Internet’s vast reservoir of psychic malaise. Before long, we felt ourselves pulled in too

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