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10 Fascinating Facts about Black Holes


Three Types of Black Holes

The first type of black holes is called stellar black holes and they are the smallest of the


They are created when a star that is larger than our sun collapses and continues to fall

in on itself.

While stellar black holes are relatively small, they are incredibly dense.

For example, three times the mass of the sun can be packed into the area that is the size

of a city on Earth.

It is believed that there are about a few hundred million stellar black holes in our


On the other end of the size spectrum are supermassive black holes.

Researchers arent sure how they are spawned, but their radius is about the size of the

sun and their masses are billions of times greater than the sun.

It is believed that they are at the center of galaxies, including our own.

Finally, intermediate black holes are mid-sized black holes.

It is believed they are formed when there is a chain reaction collision of stars that

are in a cluster.

Researchers werent even sure that these existed until one was discovered in 2014.


What Do they Look Like?

Black holes cant be observed because nothing, not even light, can escape from their boundaries,

known as the event horizon, because the gravity is so strong.

What we could observe is gas when it falls into a black hole because it is heated up

which causes the gases to glow.

If we had telescopes or satellites to see a black hole up close, it would look like

a rotating disk with a black hole in the middle.


Colliding Black Holes

On September 14, 2015, twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors

picked up a small chirp from space.

It turns out that chirp was a collision 1.3 billion light years ago between two black

holes a billion light years away.

The black holes were about 29 and 36 times the mass of our sun.

Before colliding, they circled each other and then in a fifth of a second, they became

one black hole with the mass of 62 of our suns.

When they combined, some of the mass was converted to energy and the energy emitted was gravitational


Gravitational waves were first theorized by Einstein, and they are a disturbance in the

cosmos that could cause space-time to stretch, jiggle, and collapse, which would produce

ripples of gravity.

The problem was that there was no way to detect these gravitational waves and physicists,

including Einstein himself, were never really sure they existed.

The discovery has already been hailed as one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs of

the past century and Stephen Hawking said it is a key scientific moment that could change

how we look at the universe.


Times Slows Down Around it

If youve seen Interstellar, youll know what happens when you travel near a black

hole; time slows down.

What is incorrect about the film is that the time dilation would not be quite that extreme.

Time dilation is ultimately affected by gravity, the stronger the gravity, the stronger the

time dilation.

Also, time only slows down once you get near the black hole, once you pass the event horizon,

time would stop.


Whats at the Center?

It is believed that the very center of a black hole is a time space curvature called singularity.

As you get closer to singularity, large amounts of matter are crushed and jammed into immensely

small and dense space.

In fact, in singularity, matter is crushed to the point where it doesnt even have


Singularity also grows infinitely bigger the further objects travel into it.

But since the insides of black holes are impossible to observe, singularity is only a theory and

some physicists even question if it exists at all.


Closest Black Holes

Since black holes are so hard to detect, we arent exactly sure where the closest one


At first, researchers believed the closest one was at the center of the Milky Way, but

currently it is believed that V616 Mon (A0620-00) in the Monoceros constellation, about 3,000

light years away is the closest black hole.


Energy Source

At first, it was believed that black holes were just energy drains because once something

crosses the event horizon, it never leaves.

But in the 1970s, Stephen Hawking showed that black holes should also emit power around

the event horizon through a radiation, known as Hawking Radiation, and it is produced by

quantum fluctuations of empty space.

The obvious extension is - would we ever be able to harness that power?

Well, some physicists believe that if we overcame the physical problems it would be possible

to get energy from a black hole.

In 1983, a team of physicists suggested that an energy collecting device could be dropped

in close to the event horizon and then we could simply pull it back up.

It would be similar to getting water from a well with a rope and bucket.

Obviously, youd need a very strong bucket and rope to avoid being sucked in by the event


Another way to collect energy would be to stick instringsand the radiation would

run up it, the way oil runs up a wick in a gas lamp.


Could We Create One?

It goes without saying that black holes can be dangerous, so we definitely wouldnt

want to make one on Earth, right?

Well, it turns out that we can theoretically make microscopic ones that are harmless.

In 2014, using Hawking radiation, researchers came close to mimicking a black hole in a


But at the time of this writing, one has not been created.


Evaporate Over Time

In the prior entries we talked about Hawking Radiation, which is energy found at the boundaries

of the black hole.

What is interesting is that this radiation also causes black holes to evaporate over

long periods of time.

Why they evaporate comes down to quantum theory which suggests that virtual particles pop

in and out of existence all the time.

When they pop into existence, a particle and an antiparticle combine and then they disappear


But when the two particles pop into existence near the event horizon, they dont cancel

each other out.

Instead, one falls into the black hole and the other goes off into space.

Over time, the escaping particles cause the black hole to deteriorate.

Meaning black holes die, just like everything else in the known universe.


What Happens When You Fall In

If you were to dive into a black hole that was the size of the Earth, your body would

look liketoothpastecoming out of a tube.

Your body would be stretched out in what British astrophysicist, Sir Martin Rees, calledspaghettification.”

Eventually, you would become a stream of subatomic particles that would swirl into the black


But, if you were to dive into a larger black hole, say one that is the size of our solar

system, then your body may be able to hold its structural integrity.

If you survive that, youll see the curvature of space-time and you will be able to see

everything that fell into the black hole before you and at the same time youll be able

to see everything that will ever fall into the black hole.

This means that youll be able to see the entire history of the universe, from the Big

Bang to the end of time, all at once.

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