Star Gobbler; August 1994; Scientific American Magazine; by Powell; 2 Page(s)
Scientists may not believe in monsters, but many astronomers believe--in the metaphoric sense-- that ravenous beasts truly exist at the centers of some galaxies. These cosmic creatures are giant black holes, collapsed objects having millions or even billions of times the mass of the sun packed into a space no larger than our solar system. The gravitational field of such objects is so powerful that matter and even light that fall in cannot return to the outside universe.
For three decades, astronomers have eagerly sought signs that monster black holes were more than a figment of their imaginative theorizing. Now the Hubble Space Telescope has provided the strongest sign yet that these objects are indeed real. A team of astronomers led by Holland Ford of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore and Richard Harms of the Applied Research Corporation in Landover, Md., carried out the observations.