Star Wars: Ohio State's Supernova vs. Michigan's Black Hole

Dave Ghose

We pit the two astronomical discoveries against each other in a fair-and-balanced analysis.

In August 2015,a team of astronomers from the University of Michigan announced they'd discovered the smallest black hole ever observed in the center of a galaxy. A few months later, Ohio State University scientists reported they'd also made a major celestial discovery-possibly the most powerful supernova ever seen. So which is more significant? Which school gets to take home the astronomical equivalent of the gold pants awarded to Ohio State players who beat Michigan on the football field? Vivienne Baldassare, the lead author of the scientific paper that outlined the UM discovery, says she and her Michigan colleagues don't think in those terms. When it comes to the stars, everyone's in it together. "In my experience, it's very collaborative," says the UM doctoral student. Likely story. She's probably plotting to name her black hole after Jim Harbaugh. Here are the two discoveries, pitted against each other, in a completely unbiased scientific smackdown.


Ohio State: Called ASASSN-15lh-pronounced "assassin," which also happens to be the nickname of Jack Tatum, a member of the Buckeyes' 1968 national championship team that beat Michigan 50-14

Michigan: Found in the center of the galaxy RGG 118-initials that represent the three astronomers who discovered the galaxy, none of whom has ever scored a touchdown against Ohio State


Ohio State: Discovered as part of Ohio State's All Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASASSN), which includes a unit of robotic telescopes called "Brutus"

Michigan: Discovered using a mountaintop telescope without a cool nickname because Michigan doesn't even have an adorable anthropomorphic mascot


Ohio State: A possible rare type of star called a "magnetar," which sounds like a Marvel superhero and would make an excellent nickname for Zeke Elliott, who ran for 214 yards against Michigan last season

Michigan: Found within a "dwarf galaxy," a puny cluster of stars that Magnetar Elliott would smash into solar dust without even causing a ripple in the space-time continuum


Ohio State: Two hundred times more powerful than the average supernova, 20 times brighter than all the stars in the Milky Way and nearly as unstoppable as a Joey Bosa bull rush

Michigan: Still ravenously devouring stars, dust, gas and anything else that passes before it-just like Brady Hoke


Ohio State: OSU astronomer Krzysztof Stanek likens the possible supernova to a "million Death Stars," an engaging pop cultural reference you'd expect from a Columbus citizen.

Michigan: UM scientists say the black hole is about 50 times the mass of the sun. Which is yellow, by the way. Definitely not "maize," if that's even a real color.


Ohio State (science doesn't lie)