The feature article of this issue of StarDate takes our readers through the galaxies and into the heart of darkness - black holes. Powerful enough to feast on stars and swallow light, these dark, hulking monsters have voracious appetites and bad table manners: They'll eat just about everything that gets too close, and have been caught "belching" huge bubbles of hot gas into space. A few decades ago, black holes seemed more a theoretical possibility than a celestial presence. Now, with more than 30 of them confirmed, black holes appear to be charter members of our universe. In fact, astronomers are finding them in all sorts of galaxies -- including our own Milky Way.
To capture some of the excitement about recent black hole discoveries, we've expanded this month's feature to bring our readers vivid descriptions and startling images of these cosmic behemoths. You won't want to miss what our authors, both pioneers in the discovery and understanding of black holes, have to say about one of nature's most mysterious dark spectacles.