Oh, my stars! As the cover proclaims, a black hole may not be an actual hole, but readers will be glad they fell into this book. The volume guides readers on a (literally) out-of-this-world tour, dealing with topics and concepts that, in the hands of a less-gifted writer, might have remained obscure and unclear. DeCristofano handles the material with wit, style and singularly admirable clarity, frequently employing easy-to-understand and, yes, down-to-earth ideas and scenarios to help make complex principles comprehensible to readers of all ages. Carroll’s illustrations, diagrams and charts, along with superb telescopic photographs (many courtesy of NASA) are splendid and filled with the drama and excitement of the limitless vastness of space. The handsome design and visuals greatly enhance the text and add much to readers’ grasp of the subject. Stargazers will be entranced, and even those not especially attuned to matters celestial will come away feeling smarter, awestruck and with a sense of finally understanding this fascinating, other-worldly phenomenon. An excellent resource.
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Writing with rare verve (“A black hole is nothing to look at. Literally.”), DeCristofano condenses recent astronomical discoveries into a high energy account of what we know or guess about one of the universe’s deepest and most unobservable secrets. Covering the life cycle of stars; the formation of black holes and weird optical and physical effects associated with them; more recent revelations of super-sized black holes at the centers of galaxies; and the general effects of mass on space, light, and matter, she presents a clear, well-rounded picture of the strange structure and stranger physics of black holes. After leading a wild ride over a black hole’s event horizon (“Right away, you would need a new nickname–something like Stretch . . . .”) and explaining theories about gravity from Newton’s notions to “Einstein’s Spacey Ideas,” DeCristofano leaves readers to ponder the truth of her claim that a black hole isn’t a hole–but “NOT exactly NOT a hole either.” Enhanced by a time line and a generous set of further resources–and illustrated with plenty of cogent diagrams, space photographs, and Carroll’s dramatic images of stellar whirlpools and mammoth jets of gas around cores of impenetrable blackness–this book will snatch readers from their orbits and fling them into a lasting fascination with nature’s most attractive phenomena. Literally.
—Booklist, starred review