What are Black Holes?

In 1964, scientists made an incredible discovery that would change the space-time continuum forever. A place in space where the power of gravity was so strong that even light couldn’t escape its grasp. They had discovered the first of its kind ─ black holes. 

What is a Black Hole? How is it formed?

A black hole is situated in a place in space where matter has been squeezed so tightly together that it collapses on its own gravity and creates a rip on space-time. The power of the black hole prevents anything from escaping its grasp. A black hole is formed when the center of a massive star falls in on itself and explodes–causing a supernova. This concept was proved by Einstein’s theory of general relativity which states that when a star dies, it will leave behind a very dense core that becomes overwhelmed by the power of gravity. Not any star can become a black hole though. For a star to turn into a black hole, it would have to be 3 times the mass of the sun for the force of gravity to overwhelm the mass of the star. 

Black Holes can Merge

Although Black holes are dense and very powerful by themselves, an incredible phenomenon can take place that will make a black hole’s power double – and sometimes even triple! This is called Black hole merging. When Black holes drift near each other, the unconditional gravity of each black hole will pull in the other celestial object towards it. Both Black holes will rotate around each other faster and faster till they both merge into a single body called a supermassive Black hole. This phenomenon cannot be observed through a telescope however because Black holes do not emit light, so scientists have to observe Black hole collisions through high power instruments that can detect gravitational imbalances.  

How do scientists see black holes?

Black holes cannot be observed by telescopes that identify light, X-rays, or any other electromagnetic radiation. However, scientists detect black holes by the effect they have on nearby celestial objects. For example, if a black hole passes through a cloud of interstellar matter, it will pull the matter towards itself in a process called accretion. Another way to identify a black hole would be when a star gets too close to it. The power of the black hole’s gravity will tear the star apart and absorb the matter of the star. As this process happens, the star will emit X-rays into space which can then be picked up by telescopes. 

What is on the other side of a black hole?

There are many theories about what is on the other side of a black hole and all of them are uniquely different. For example, one theory states that a black hole is connected to another celestial object called a white hole. The theory says that a wormhole separates a black and white hole and that if a person falls through a black hole, they will end up on the other side of a white hole in an alternate universe. A wormhole is a connection between two points in space that ultimately reduces the time needed to travel a certain distance.

For instance, our nearest galaxy, the Andromeda galaxy, is 2.537 million light-years from Earth. It would take us approximately 2.5 million years to get there. But say someone fell through a black hole, they could travel that distance in seconds rather than millions of years. Although this theory seems impossible and no proof of these celestial objects has been produced, some scientists continue to believe white holes exist because of the law of conservation of mass. The law of conservation of mass states that matter cannot be created or destroyed. As such, the matter that falls into a black hole must end up going somewhere. That somewhere can inexplicably be a white hole. 

What actually happens when you fall into a black hole?

If anyone just passes by a black hole, there won’t be any major effects. However, it’s when someone goes through the event horizon that a problem shows up. The event horizon is also called the point of no escape and that is exactly what it is. Once a person passes that point, there is no way they will escape.

So, if a person falls feet first into a black hole and he crosses the event horizon, the gravity at his feet will be stronger than the gravity at his head. His feet will pull downward stretching the body and eventually snapping it in two! Then slowly, his body will disintegrate into thousands of molecules and atoms which get squeezed into the fabric of space-time. What happens after that is pure imagination. The molecules can fall through and get reconstructed at the end of a white hole, or they could remain particles forever spinning in the accretion disk of the black hole. 

Conclusion

Black holes are incredible objects of mystery in outer space. Although at this point in time they pose more questions than answers, one day in the near future black holes could serve as a way of transportation, teleportation, or even time travel! The possibilities are endless when such an amazing object is within observing distance. Once people figure out a way to harness this incredible power, the outcomes will be unbelievable!

Anu Putturu

I'm a high school student at Alliance Academy for Innovation pursuing the Healthcare pathway. I'm highly interested in becoming a Gynecologist and am looking for internship opportunities or scholarships to attend the best college I can.

1 comment

  • Hey, great article! Wondering in the black hole, has any human actually seen it. I know it is not known much by anyone really, but has further exploration been undergoed?

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