spaceSpace and Physics

No One Can Agree What The Collective Noun For Black Holes Should Be. What Do You Think?


Dr. Alfredo Carpineti

Senior Staff Writer & Space Correspondent

clockApr 27 2021, 16:38 UTC
Image Credit: 3000ad/

A warp? A void? A maw? Image Credit: 3000ad/

The collective noun for owls is a parliament. A group of kittens makes a kindle. And if you see several hedgehogs, you've got a prickle on your hands. But what do you call a group of black holes? Once theoretical, this question has become more pertinent, especially after the recent discovery of a peculiar group of small black holes clustered together.

This collective noun question came up recently during a professional Zoom meeting for members of the next generation gravitational wave observatory, the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, or LISA, posed by one of the member's daughter. 


“[W]hen one of the members said his daughter was wondering what you call a collective of black holes — and then the meeting fell apart, with everyone trying to up one another,” Jocelyn Kelly Holley-Bockelmann, an astrophysicist at Vanderbilt University who was hosting the call, told the New York Times. “Each time I saw a suggestion, I had to stop and giggle like a loon, which egged us all on more.”

They decided to share the question on Twitter, resulting in an onslaught of opinions.

There are so many suggestions that even picking a few is difficult. You could have a veil of black holes, a vacancy, an abyss, a crush, a maw, a void, and even a wonder. One suggestion calls for a Schwarzschild, after the German physicist who was the first to provide an exact solution to Einstein’s theory of general relativity and published the mathematical underpinning of the event horizon.


There are calls for going with the very descriptive (and delicious-sounding) Cosmic Swiss Cheese as well as a trypophobia of black holes, after the fear of holes. Or it could be a choir of black holes given that gravitational waves are turned into sound and black hole collisions are referred to as chirps.


There doesn’t seem to be a clear winner at the moment, so we're all for hearing some more ideas. 

The LISA observatory will be similar to the current LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave observatories but much bigger. This will allow scientists to probe the unknowns of the universe even more.


A technology demonstration for this incredible observatory was tested in 2016 when the test spacecraft created the quietest place known to humankind, reaching five times the precision needed for the actual LISA. LISA is expected to be launched in 2034 so hopefully, by then we will have an answer to the question: what should the collective noun for black holes be?

[H/T: The New York Times]

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