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Arcade Fire Perform Two Songs Promoting First Image of Milky Way’s Black Hole: Watch

Arcade Fire used an image of a black hole on the artwork of their new album WE and named a song after the Milky Way's Sagittarius A*

arcade fire sagittarius a* black hole milky way
Arcade Fire and Sagittarius A*, images via European Southern Observatory (YouTube)
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    Our galaxy the Milky Way spins around Sagittarius A*, a supermassive, space-time shredding black hole that weighs as much as 4.5 million suns. Today the Event Horizon Telescope team presented the first ever image of Sagittarius A*, and the black hole nerds of Arcade Fire were on hand to trumpet this landmark scientific achievement.

    Frontman Win Butler and his bandmate and wife Régine Chassagne have long been fascinated by these gravitational phenomena. On the cover of their new album WE, superimposed with a picture of an eye, Arcade Fire placed one of the most famous images in astronomy: a fluorescent orange donut surrounding a dark nothing.

    It was the first ever image of a black hole: a snapshot of the chonker at the heart of the M87 galaxy 55 million lightyears from Earth, presented by this same Event Horizon Telescope team in 2019. The orange shows the superhot radiation of burning matter as it hurtles at unfathomable speeds toward what scientists call the event horizon — the unseen line where gravity become so powerful that not even light can escape.

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    This new glimpse of Sagittarius A* (pronounced Sagittarius-a-star) looks fairly similar to the black hole holding together M87, which makes sense, considering how very far away these objects are. During a press conference presenting their findings, the EHT team ceded the stage to Win and Régine. “To me it’s almost symbolic,” Win said. “There’s so much we don’t know about ourselves and our planet.

    “When I was reading about Sagittarius A it just spoke to me as this enormous thing at the center of our galaxy that we don’t understand that we’re trying to understand better,” he continued. “The sense of collaboration it takes to get these images — it transcends international borders and it’s in all of humanity’s common interest. It’s important to look up at the stars to get out of our own heads.”

    The two Arcade Fire members began their performance with the WE track “End of the Empire IV (Sagittarius A*),’ aka the “unsubscribe” song. Arcade Fire followed that up with the title track, “WE.” Check it out below.

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    Last week Arcade Fire delivered a four-song set on SNL, and this summer they’ll embark on a massive tour with Feist and Beck. Tickets are available here.

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