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Black Holes Consume Us All

6/03/2015
​Grace Tidswell, Jake Bennetts, Kieran Plume, Judd Moy and Angela Bragg Skype with Prof Carl Pennypacker
Ever since the concept of a black hole was first conceived by the English amateur astronomer John Michell in 1783, they have consumed and contorted the inquisitive minds of many as they tried to unravel the mystery of what a black hole actually is. 
Recently, five bright Yr. 9 students at Trinity Bay SHS in Cairns thought that black holes would be a fascinating topic to study as part of their science excellence program, unaware of the mind-captivating spell that black holes suck one into.  With astronomically more questions than answers, they came to TSAA for advice.  We thought it would be a stellar idea to call on some topic professionals from the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories in the US.
World renowned astrophysicist Prof Carl Pennypacker obligingly dedicated over an hour of his valuable time to Skype with the students in an attempt to quench their thirst for answers.  Well, what came out of that?  Another project on a likely black hole candidate – Cygnus X-1! 
Prof Pennypacker has kindly offered to arrange access time on robotic research telescopes for the students to access online and image Cygnus X-1 over a period of time.  Prof Pennypacker will work with the students to analyse the light-curves of their images using specialised Salsa-J software.  Perhaps unbeknown by these students, they have now entered the event horizon of this topic - there is no return to normality for them now!