“Please,” says Ava. “Please, please.” “My parents will be angry,” Maya protests. “They’re out for the weekend, and it’s not that far to Pluto. We’ll be back before your parents return,” promises Ava. Maya reluctantly agrees. Her brother Reyhaan tags along. The three friends soar off from Earth on a hot summer night. Ava bounces with excitement.
Ava starts reeling off facts about the Solar System. “Do you know that one day the sun will die?” asks Ava. “You say the strangest things, Ava. How can the sun die?” asks Reyhaan. “The sun gets its energy by burning hydrogen to produce helium. Slowly, all its hydrogen will get used up. Probably in five billion years,” says Ava. Ava tells Reyhaan that when a star the size of the sun dies, it becomes a white dwarf. When a star bigger than the sun dies, it becomes a black hole.
Suddenly, there is a loud beeping. ‘ALERT! ALERT! HEAVY OBJECT PULLING SHIP OFF COURSE,’ says the computer. The friends stare at the screen. “But I can’t see anything,” says Reyhaan. “No, look,” says Maya. “The stars in Orion’s Belt are no longer in a straight line.” Ava gulps. “I…I…I think we are near a black hole. The gravitational field of the black hole is bending the light of the stars near it, like a lens bends light that passes through it.”