Yesterday, Arcade Fire were on hand to help celebrate a scientific milestone – the first-ever photo of the black hole at the center of our galaxy. Arcade Fire’s presence among the astronomers and scientists of the European Southern Observatory and Event Horizon Telescope project was thanks to their song “End of the Empire IV (Sagittarius A*)” off their new album, We; the name of the supermassive black hole is named.
The livestream which clocks in at just under three hours featured in-depth explanations of how the image was captured, the new things astronomers can observe thanks to the image and the resounding feelings of joy and inspiration resulting in the global collaborative effort that the world is currently experiencing.
About halfway through the stream Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Régine Chassagne performed their song “End of the Empire IV (Sagittarius A*).” The stripped-down live performance featured the two musicians on piano and guitar, which features two references to the black hole, first, “One Christ child and one on the way/ Why don’t we name her Sagittarius A*/ What a pretty name” and toward the end of the song “And the space where they say/ Heaven is has gone away/ Sagittarius A*/ We’ll see one day/ What’s on the other side.”
Before they performed they were asked where the idea of the song’s name come from. “To me, it’s almost symbolic of, there’s so much we don’t know about ourselves and our planet. When I was reading about Sagittarius A* it just sort of spoke to me as this enormous thing at the center of our galaxy that we don’t fully understand, that we’re trying to understand better,” Butler said. “And yeah the sense of collaboration it takes to get these images, it transcends international borders and it’s in all of humanity’s common interest and so I think that it’s important to look at the stars and get out of our own heads.”
Butler also stated that the album art of We features a hidden image of the only other supermassive black hole to be photographed before Sagittarius A*, Messier 87. “An image of it is on the back of our LP. We sort of superimposed it with an image of a human eye, very close, and there’s a lot of links between the stars and ourselves,” he shared.
Watch the livestreamed conference below and enjoy Aracde Fires’ performance at 1:18:00 below: