Scientific Controversies
No. 15: Black Holes

Scientific Controversies (Sci Con) is a series of conversations between scientists on unsolved quandaries, hosted by Director of Sciences Janna Levin.

Black holes are gloriously weird. Formed as the death state of heavy stars, they can be as small as cities or as big as solar systems. Our own Milky Way galaxy is anchored at its center by a black hole four million times the mass of our sun but only 20 sun widths across. The rest of our galaxy could harbor billions of city-sized black holes. There are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the observable universe, each one replete with billions of stellar mass black holes and each one probably the home to one supermassive black hole. Beyond the oddity of black holes, they may play an essential role in sculpting galaxies and the universe on the largest scales. Black holes may have carved a world that we could live in.

Director of Sciences Janna Levin invites Yale professor and astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan and the University of Arizona professor and astrophysicist Feryal Özel to question if our very existence is contingent on the shepherding role of black holes in the history of the cosmos.

Join us after the conversation for star gazing with the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York in the garden and DJ Black Helmet’s set of rare grooves in the North Hall.

This project is supported by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science.