Earlier this week Nasa released the first ever image of a black hole. I’m referring to it as an image and not a photograph due to the technique used. For more on the specifics check out this special mini episode of The Reality Check featuring Exposing Pseudoastronomy’s Stuart Robbins. This is an image of the supermassive black hole which is located at the centre of the Messier 87 galaxy which is about 55 million light year away. This of course makes one immediately think of Sailor Moon! The final conflict between Sailor Moon and Galaxia takes place at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy. In this case it’s at the Galaxy Cauldron, the birthplace of all of the Milky Way’s heavenly bodies. What, if any, basis does this location have in reality? Most, possibly all, galaxies have a supermassive black hole at the centre and so the imaged black hole in Messier 87 is likely quite similar to the one in the Milky Way.
The Stars arc of the manga mentions a number of times that the location in the centre of the galaxy where Galaxia finds what she is looking for and ultimately where Sailor Moon follows, is Sagittarius Zero Star. This is a fictional place however it is mentioned that it is located within Sagittarius Alpha Star. This is based on a real astronomical area which, in the real world like in the manga, is located at the centre of the Milky Way galaxy, our galaxy. The actual of the area is “Sagittarius A*“, pronounced “Sagittarius A Star”, which is quite close in spelling to the fictional “Sagittarius Alpha Star”. No Galaxy Cauldron or Galaxia’s castle exists at Sagittarius A* which describes the entire supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy!
So what, if anything, is the black hole meant to be? Is all of Sagittarius Alpha Star the supermassive black hole in Sailor Moon? It isn’t really clear. As Sagittarius Zero Star is located at the centre of Sagittarius Alpha Star it seems like this itself isn’t in the black hole. One can wonder how much of this area Naoko Takeuchi chose to base on black holes.
One feature of a black hole is the loss of any information which enters it. This doesn’t mean that a book entering a black hole comes out empty, but rather than any information, such the way matter is arranged or a signal that enters it, would be lost. What does eventually escape a black hole is known as Hawking Radiation and this does not preserve the information of what originally went into the black hole. When entering Sagittarius Alpha Star, traveling to meet Sailor Galaxia, Sailor Moon travels down the River of Forgetfulness where Sailor Lethe causes her to lose her memory. It may be a bit of a stretch but there’s a comparison to be made here. The information in a person’s mind is lost when entering a black hole and that is manifested as a magical process in which memory is lost. The counterpart to Sailor Lethe is Sailor Mnemosyne and the River of Memory. I can’t say I can think of a black hole equivalent to this!
Further there’s the idea that nothing escapes the event horizon of a black hole. When Sailor Moon enters the Galaxy Cauldron there is an expectation that she could not come out or remain intact. Guardian Cosmo mentions that she is powerful to maintain her appearance inside the Cauldron. Is this a reference to things being stuck in a black hole or the loss of information? Clearly we have things in Sailor Moon which do actually get preserved after entering the black hole and subsequently escape it, but this is presented as being exceptional. This is a magical series where hard rules are often broken. How many times has the Silver Crystal been used and not resulted in Sailor Moon’s death or had her somehow cheat that rule after all?
Besides this the Galaxy Cauldron exhibits a number of properties which don’t really fit with black holes or more specifically the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy. It is said to be the birthplace of all heavenly bodies in the Milky Way. This would include all stars, planets and moons. Pretty much anything which has a Sailor Guardian! This isn’t really how the galaxy works to be sure. Solar systems, with their stars, planets, moons and other celestial bodies, are formed as matter from dust and gasses groups together thanks to gravity in the vastness of space. This does not require a black hole and quite to the contrary, if any of this matter does go into a black hole, it generally doesn’t come out. A star which explodes certainly can eventually be reformed as new stars, planets and such, but a black hole is not included in this life cycle. This also plays around Sailor Crystals which go in and out of the Galaxy Cauldron. This behaviour certainly makes sense as an in universe explanation of things but it doesn’t fit with how black holes work. A supermassive black hole will grow in mass and size as other stars and celestial bodies enter them, but this is a one way trip.
Considering that the Milky Way is only one of the countless galaxies in our Universe, what happens in other galaxies? Does the Messier 87 galaxy, along with its supermassive black hole, also contain a Galaxy Cauldron which is the birthplace of all heavenly bodies in that galaxy? Does every celestial body have a Sailor Guardian? Would Galaxia and Chaos have moved on to another galaxy when they were done with the Milky Way or are the distances between galaxies too vast to bridge? When two galaxies collide, as happens frequently in the cosmos, do the various Sailor Guardians from those galaxies fight each other? Does everyone else also look like a human for some reason? These questions almost certainly don’t have answers!
Besides this reference to the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy, we also have a black hole featured in the movie Sailor Moon SuperS: The Nine Sailor Guardians Unite! Miracle of the Black Dream Hole. This black hole has only some similarities to real black holes. It is black! That’s a similarity! Things get absorbed by it and seemingly can’t escape it, though again Sailor Moon goes in and is able to get out, by destroying it, but again she’s full of magic and such. The way in which it is very unlike a real black hole is its enormous size! A black hole with the mass of the entire Earth would have a radius of less than a centimetre. As the Black Dream Hole is attempting to absorb the Earth its size grows and grows to a size which is suggested to be even bigger than the planet. This is a pretty standard way to misinterpret a black hole as it is hard to conceive of something being massive, in this case the mass of the Earth, but not being large. Since Naoko Takeuchi didn’t write the SuperS film, we can’t really expect any consistency here with what we see in the manga.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this random musing about black holes. Do you think any parallels were actually intended by the author, or am I just grasping at passing similarities?