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Astronomers Create Prize-Winning Black Hole Site

A black hole pulls gas from the star orbiting around it. The gas heats up and emits X-rays (in yellow) as it falls into the black hole. Image credit: NASA/Chandra
by Staff Writers
Baltimore MD (SPX) May 17, 2006
A team of astronomers has created an entire Web site that explores the mysterious phenomena known as black holes.

Roeland van der Marel, of the Space Telescope Science Institute, and colleagues created the site � Black Holes: Gravity's Relentless Pull � and won the top 2005 prize in the Pirelli INTERNETional Award competition, the first international multimedia contest for communicating science and technology on the Web.

The site, containing animation and graphics, explores black holes of all sizes, including the supermassives that anchor the centers of most galaxies.

"Our goal is to show that even the most mysterious of things can be understood with the combined application of human thinking and powerful technology," van der Marel said. "We want to convey the importance of scientific thought and hope to instill, especially in the younger generation of viewers, an appreciation for learning and an interest in science."

Van der Marel and colleagues will receive their prize during a ceremony May 16 in Rome. An international jury selected the Pirelli award winners from 1,000 entries from more than 50 countries. Launched in 1996, the award is sponsored by the Italian tire company.

The team created the black holes Web site with the help of a NASA education and public outreach grant.

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Penn State Researchers Look Beyond The Birth Of The Universe
Uniontown PA (SPX) May 17, 2006
According to Einstein's general theory of relativity, the Big Bang represents The Beginning, the grand event at which not only matter but space-time itself was born. While classical theories offer no clues about existence before that moment, a research team at Penn State has used quantum gravitational calculations to find threads that lead to an earlier time.

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