The light sinks past a point of no return and into an unknown realm that can only be imagined. Mysterious as they are, they can be found. Astronomers have detected black holes in the whirling movements of stars and spinning rings of gas and dust that coalesce around a seemingly empty spot in space. They have detected them in bright beacons of ejected particles, the cosmic burps of a hearty meal. They have even detected them in gravitational waves, the faint ripples that distort the very makeup of space and time when two black holes collide.
Astronomers on Wednesday released the first direct image of a black hole, pieced together from observations by telescopes around the world. The black hole resides at the center of a galaxy known as Messier 87, named for the 18th-century French astronomer who discovered it. Messier is one of the biggest nearby galaxies.
The black hole at its center has a mass 6. The photographic evidence of a long-unseen cosmic force is an extraordinary achievement in science. Messier 87 is located about 55 million light-years from Earth. The electromagnetic radiation there—the kinds of signals scientists seek to detect—took a very long time to reach the planet, longer than any human beings have been around. By the time it arrived, they had figured out how to peer back into the depths and snap a picture.
Astronomers aimed their telescopes at the event horizon, the invisible boundary thought to surround all black holes.
An Extraordinary Image of the Black Hole at a Galaxy’s Heart
In the photos, the event horizon has cast a shadow on the bright, hot gas swirling at the galactic center. Just before the cosmic material crosses over, it heats up and glows. The black hole appears in silhouette, a slightly elongated ball, ringed by a halo of fire. If the photo looks fuzzy around the edges, consider the size of the shadow. Heino Falcke, one of the astronomers involved in the effort, predicted that from here, the shadow of the black hole inside Messier 87 would be 20 to 40 microarcseconds across. All you need to know about microarcseconds is that 10 of them are equivalent to the size of a coin on the moon, viewed from Earth.
These scales made black holes elusive. With my new found strength, I give 30 year-old me a hug. I tell her that I love her, that I understand her on a visceral level. In this meditation practice I can hold a space for myself, past, present or future. I go back to all my past selves who have been hurt in a major way and I give them love and comfort. For example, I go back to my teenage self and I put my arm around her as she sobs over that first heartbreak.
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And when I feel challenged in the present, I can draw strength from my future self who has already been through my current experience. I close my eyes and I connect with her. I listen to the advice she has to give me and draw on the wisdom she provides. Take a few months ago, for example, when I feel a strong urge to terminate a lucrative contract to pursue my own writing. So, I take the time to enter a meditative state and imagine a conversation with my future self.
She gives me permission to trust my heart. These practices are the basis of a relationship I have with myself that centers on unconditional love, compassion and respect. Lesson 7: Monitor Your Inner World. It takes me two years of regular gyming to come out of the hell hole of a major depression. I live in relative happiness, but I start to notice dents in my inner peace. For example, why do I avoid group situations like the plague?
Why am I the first person to withdraw from conversations at a dinner party? Why do I have trouble asking for help? Is it true that your thoughts create your reality? Can my mind.
Why haven't we seen an image of a black hole before?
All you have to do to monitor your inner world is meditate for 20 minutes a day. Just 20 minutes. Every day. Daily meditation introduces me to the enormity of my own being. The hell hole of depression turns out to be the infinite space of awareness that holds everything together. The hell hole was never there in the first place. It all depends on how you look at it. It turns out that I must have misread the signals from her because she has a boyfriend.
I feel the sensation of being crushed rising inside me. Because my thoughts are making me depressed right now, it helps to let them go.
I rescue myself from my sad thoughts by also remembering that all thinking is rubbish, all of it. Not just sad or angry thinking, but happy and excited thinking.
Black hole picture captured for first time in space breakthrough | Science | The Guardian
Ajahn Chah teaches us to transcend thinking altogether. They all contribute to the same problem, which is thinking itself. You trade the pristine, calm nature of pure awareness for these temporary, ultimately unfulfilling illusions of light and shadow, in which all sorrow and all joy exist. The existential hole in the center of my existence comes to life. It is life. Ajahn Chah helps me localize my problems to my thoughts.
I am creating my own reality with my thoughts. I have a responsibility to create wisely because I have a choice. I have a choice in what I think about the situation with the woman I thought was flirting with me. I have a choice in interpreting her intentions, and a choice in what I think of her and how I respond.
I can tell myself that she is mean, deceitful, or confused, or potentially unfaithful. But nothing I tell myself captures the truth of who she is adequately enough. I realize that my internal representation of the situation is not the same as the situation itself. I also realize that my internal representation is fraught with inaccuracies, distortions, errors and my own bias. So, how do I choose to respond in this situation? I choose to respond wisely. I choose to accept my feelings of hurt and to investigate why I feel hurt.
Black hole picture captured for first time in space breakthrough
For example, I imagine someone else in her shoes. What if a man had made a pass at me and turned out to be unavailable, would that upset me? Not even slightly. So what is it about this particular situation, with this particular person that elicits the feelings of hurt in me? Using my logical mind, I choose to see that I am creating my own suffering by how I perceive this. I choose to recognize that my perception of the situation is neither accurate nor is it the situation itself. We all have a emotional reaction patterns that are the result of childhood conditioning.
When I was six years old, my mother took me to the supermarket. But once I was in there, a toy caught my eye. Selfishly, I decided I wanted it. Abandoning the promise I made moments earlier, I grabbed the toy and asked my mother to get it for me. At first she said no, but I insisted and then my insistence turned into a full-blown tantrum. Embarrassed within an inch of her life, and in the interest of reducing noise pollution, my mother bought me the toy.
I get really upset, I cry a lot, I protest. Now what should I do? Instead, life will let you cry and wail all you want, until you die crying or allow yourself to start growing up. When I start thinking with my Adult Brain, I realize the mistake I keep making is nearly always the same. And when she failed to meet that expectation, when the outcome went against my sense of entitlement that reality should bend to my will, I had a negative emotional response.
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As an adult, I come to understand how I can nip suffering in the bud, before it even starts, by being aware of the expectations I create and then letting them go. Creating expectations is not the problem, but becoming attached to them is. Faced with the same situation again, I might take pleasure in being paid a special kind of attention by a woman but would stop short of developing an expectation of what that attention should mean or what it should lead to. My Adult Brain now realizes it has a toddler inside it. Nowadays, when someone really pisses me off, and I feel like I hate them, I close my eyes and think well of them.
This is a form of Tonglen that I also learn from Pema. I send them love.
This practice changes something in me, and it prepares me to deal with them compassionately next time we meet. That in itself has transformed situations and people like magic in my life.