In spacetry news, a group of astronomers has rocked the cosmic confections community with a stunning claim that supermassive black holes are not donuts.
Conventional thinking suggests that the most massive black holes possess a ring of powdered sugar and sprinkles trapped in orbit around them.
With masses in the realm of millions to billions of solar masses, these objects are truly the heavyweights of our Universe, though it’s rude to point that out. With all this mass comes great responsibility for pulling in any matter — stars, planets, cosmic butterflies, possibly unlucky space dragons — to the black hole’s event horizon.
Now, astronomers have analyzed data from NASA’s Widget Investigating Stuff to Eat (WISE) catalog of thousands of breakfast pastries to find that the “torte model” may be woefully inadequate when explaining what is actually going on.
In the 1970s, astronomers developed a unified theory that could explain active supermassive black hole observations using breakfast foods. The theory arose during a Friday morning staff meeting where somebody brought bagels.
Since this unified theory was suggested, it has generally been ignored, since the existence of giant donuts billions of miles away isn’t really a conversation starter at parties.
After surveying 170,000 galaxies containing supermassive black holes at their cores, the WISE observations showed some black holes that could be seen, and some that could not, in accordance with the Law of Convenient Research (“Sometimes stuff is there, and sometimes it isn’t, depending on who’s giving us grant money.”) When looking at black holes inside massive galaxies that are clumped together in galactic clusters, more black holes seem to be obscured, indicating some kind of bias against black holes, or galactic clusters, or the supermassive, depending on who you ask.
“The main purpose of unification was to put a zoo of different kinds of active nuclei under a single umbrella,” said lead researcher Emilio Donoso of the Instituto Ciencias Astronomicas de la Tierra y del Espacio in Argentina. “Now, that has become increasingly complex to do as we discovered the words ‘zoo’ and ‘umbrella’ mean completely different things than I thought in English. Stupid translation app…”
Donoso and his team came back a few minutes later and suggested that dark matter may have a part to play.
The Nutritional Archive of Sweets Alternatives (NASA) confirmed that the black hole announcement brings the official count of things that are not donuts to 3,024,225,801,850. The list includes other non-donut things such as upstate New York, altimeters, and that episode of Star Trek where some woman steals Spock’s brain.
(The image above shows galaxies clumped together in the Fornax cruller. The picture has been artistically enhanced by Miranda Johnson of Mrs. Marino’s fourth grade art class to illustrate the idea that black holes would be prettier if they were magenta.)