Astrophysicist Katie Mack Fact Checks "Supermassive Black Hole" by Muse
Any space enthusiast will agree black holes are metal as hell, so it only stands to reason such a topic would be forever immortalized in a song literally titled “Supermassive Black Hole” by confirmed nerds Muse. In the latest episode of I Need My Space, podcast guest and theoretical astrophysicist Katie Mack broke down what the 2006 single got right and wrong about those hungry big boys.
Basically, Muse mostly gets it right in its lyrics — which is great! Good job, Muse! For the uninitiated, that catchy-as-hell chorus goes like this: Glaciers melting in the dead of night / And the superstar’s sucked into the supermassive. The bridge repeats “Supermassive black hole” a few times. That’s basically the whole song.
“It has this bit about a star sucked into a supermassive black hole,” Mack tells INMS host and Inverse senior editor Rae Paoletta. “There will be people who will say, ‘Black holes don’t suck!’ Like it’s not the same as a physical process — okay, fine. But stars do fall into black holes sometimes and get ripped apart. And we can see like bursts of radiation from the vicinity of black holes sometimes from stars being disrupted as they’re falling into black holes. It’s just really neat.”
As Mack notes, “Supermassive Black Hole” isn’t the band’s lone astrophysics rodeo, as Muse also released a song in 2010 called “Neutron Star Collision.”
“We detected a neutron star collision with gravitational waves a few months ago,” Mack tells Inverse. “I was waiting for [Muse] to make some kind of statement, and they didn’t.”
While he may not have commented on the recent actual scientific event for which one of his songs was named, Matt Bellamy has definitely certified himself as a space nerd. Aside from “Supermassive Black Hole” and “Neutron Star Collision,” Muse’s other song titles include “Space Dementia,” “Starlight,” “Knights of Cydonia,” and “Dead Star,” among plenty of others. Basically, don’t come for Matt Bellamy — he’ll out-space your ass.