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November 18, 2020

Goth Astrophysicist Leads Research on Dark Matter and Black Holes


CAMBRIDGE, MA—Black holes are some of the most extreme objects in the Universe: the only locations where there's so much energy in a tiny volume of space that an event horizon gets created. Everything that falls past that is forever doomed, simply adding to the black hole's gravitational pull. But what does that mean for dark matter?

Dr. Joshua "Ravenblood" Hanson is an astrophysicist and lecturer at M.I.T. has dedicated his life to answering that question. From outside a black hole, scientists have no way to gain information about what it was initially composed of, but by studying its mass, electric charge, and angular momentum (or intrinsic rotational spin), Hanson is confident its composition and thus interaction with dark matter can be quantified.

"Dark matter has no color charge, baryon number, lepton number, lepton family number, etc. I call it 'Goth Matter.' I also call black holes 'Goth Holes' because they form from the deaths of supermassive stars—which is of course normal, baryonic matter—the initial composition of a newly-formed black hole is always approximately 100% normal matter and 0% dark matter. Even though there's no definitive way to tell what black holes are made of from the outside alone, we've witnessed the direct formation of a black hole from a progenitor star; no dark matter was involved," explained Dr. Hanson as my eyes glazed over and I started trying to remember how many Lilo & Stitch sequels there are. (There are three, plus a television series.)

This went on for 15 minutes. He used a bunch of big sciencey words that very well could have been sci-fi nonsense for all I know. I was hardly listening, but I swear to God he said "Stargate" at one point. Suffice it to say, he's a huge nerd.

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