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Rich Isaacson, seen in his backyard in Pentagon City, Va., wrote his thesis on gravitational waves and says he always thought their existence would be proved sometime during his career. But he didn't realize that trying to see them would become his career. Ryan Kellman/NPR hide caption

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Ryan Kellman/NPR

Billion-Dollar Gamble: How A 'Singular Hero' Helped Start A New Field In Physics

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The first-ever image of a black hole was released Wednesday by a consortium of researchers, showing the "black hole at the center of galaxy M87, outlined by emission from hot gas swirling around it under the influence of strong gravity near its event horizon." Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al hide caption

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Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al

Scientist Corey Gray and his mother, Sharon Yellowfly, are pictured at one of the two massive detectors that make up the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. One facility, where Gray works, is in Washington state, and the other is in Louisiana. Courtesy of Russell Barber hide caption

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Courtesy of Russell Barber

How A Cosmic Collision Sparked A Native American Translator's Labor Of Love

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An artist's rendering shows the Milky Way where a supermassive black hole lies at the center. A dozen smaller black holes have now been detected, and a new study suggests the monster is surrounded by about 10,000. Spitzer Space Telescope/NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC/Caltech) hide caption

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Spitzer Space Telescope/NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC/Caltech)

Center Of The Milky Way Has Thousands Of Black Holes, Study Shows

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Image of galaxy SDSS J1354+1327 (lower center) and its companion galaxy SDSS J1354+1328 (upper right). The inset panel to the right is a four-color image that combines Hubble exposures with Chandra X-ray observations. NASA , ESA, and J. Comerford (University of Colorado-Boulder) hide caption

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NASA , ESA, and J. Comerford (University of Colorado-Boulder)

The collision of two neutron stars, seen in an artist's rendering, created both gravitational waves and gamma rays. Researchers used those signals to locate the event with optical telescopes. Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science hide caption

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Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science

Astronomers Strike Gravitational Gold In Colliding Neutron Stars

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Einstein realized that if masses moved about, the deformations in space would also move about, propagating like waves, somewhat like what happens when you throw a rock on a pond. But, gravity being such a weak force, the effect is truly tiny and needs something very dramatic to create a signal we can detect here. This is exactly what was found by LIGO and the Nobel winners. traveler1116/Getty Images hide caption

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traveler1116/Getty Images

This artist's impression shows the surroundings of a supermassive black hole, typical of that found at the heart of many galaxies. The black hole itself is surrounded by a brilliant accretion disc of very hot, infalling material and, further out, a dusty torus. There are also often high-speed jets of material ejected at the black hole's poles that can extend huge distances into space. L. Calçada/ESO hide caption

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L. Calçada/ESO

An artist's rendering of a black hole that's 2 billion times more massive than our sun. Streams of particles ejected from black holes like this one are thought to be the brightest objects in the universe. ESO/M. Kornmesser hide caption

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ESO/M. Kornmesser

Some Bizarre Black Holes Put On Light Shows

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The star-forming area Messier 17, also known as the Omega Nebula or the Swan Nebula, is a vast region of gas, dust and hot young stars that lies in the heart of the Milky Way in the constellation of Sagittarius. ESO/INAF-VST/OmegaCAM hide caption

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ESO/INAF-VST/OmegaCAM