What Are Black Holes?

Black Holes

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What Are Black Holes?

What are black holesBlack holes are places in outer space where gravity’s pull is so strong that not even light can escape. The strong gravity of black holes is a result of a matter being compressed into a tiny space.

According the general theory of relativity, black holes are created by a curving in spacetime caused by a very dense mass.

Surrounding a black hole is a point of no return called the event horizon. Once an object enters the event horizon it will inevitably be sucked into the black hole.

In black holes spacetime is curved. The space inside black holes get smaller and smaller until there is no space left.

Black holes are invisible

Black holes are invisibleBlack holes can’t be seen. They are called black because their strong gravity pulls in all the light which makes them invisible.

If black holes are invisible, how do we know they are there? To detect black holes, scientists study how the strong gravity affects stars and gases. By studying stars, we can determine if a star is orbiting a black hole.

We Have A Black Hole In Our Galaxy

The supermassive black hole in the Milky Way Image Credits: nasa.gov
The supermassive black hole in the Milky Way
Image Credits: nasa.gov

The Milky Way has a black hole within it. This black hole is supermassive, which is the largest type of black holes. It is 4.1 million times more massive than the sun and is surrounded by hot gases.

We are in no danger of being absorbed by this black hole. It is 26,000 light-years away from the solar system. Even of a black hole the size of the sun was to replace the sun, we wouldn’t fall in. It’d have the same gravity as the sun. We would orbit it just as we do the sun.

Black Holes Can Shrink And Disappear

Black holes emit hawking radiations, according to the theory of quantum mechanics. The emission of these radiations reduces the mass and energy of black holes. If a black hole loses more mass than it gains it will vanish.

Larger black holes take longer to vanish. The supermassive black hole in the Milky way would take googol years to disappear. A googol is a 1 following it 100 zeros.

A black hole the size of the car would take a nanosecond to evaporate.

Types of Black Holes And How They Form

Black holes have different types; the largest being the supermassive black hole, like the one we have in our galaxy.

Miniature Black Holes


Scientists believe the smallest black holes are the size of an atom. Any black hole with a mass smaller than that of the sun is called a miniature black hole.

Miniature black holes haven’t been found yet. It is possible that miniature black holes were formed after the Big Bang.

Stellar Black Holes

stellar black holeStellar black holes form when a massive star dies and collapses. These black holes are also referred to as collapsars. These stars must be 20 million times more massive than the sun to form a black hole. There are at least 17 stellar black hole candidates in the Milky Way galaxy.

Supermassive Black Holes

supermassive black holesSupermassive black holes have the mass of more than a million suns. Although scientists don’t know how they formed, they believe that they formed with galaxies themselves. Each large galaxy has a supermassive black hole in its center.

What Would Happen If You Fell Into A Black Hole

If you are unlucky enough to fall into a black hole, what would happen to you?

You’d eventually be crushed, but what happens before that depends on the type of black hole you fall into.

If you are extremely unlucky, you’ll fall into a smaller black hole. Here the gravity pulling at your feet will be greater than the gravity pulling at your head and you’ll be stretched into a spaghetti-like string. You will eventually become a stream of subatomic particles that will be sucked into the black hole.

If you are a luckier than that, you’ll fall into a larger black hole. In this black hole, it all depends on perspective. Your partner that didn’t fall into the black hole with you will see you contort.  She watches you move slower and slower as you get closer to the event horizon. Once you’re inside the event horizon you stop moving.

To your partner, it seems like you slowly obliterated. Before you reach the black hole, you turn to ash.

But that’s not the way you see it. You are moving at the speed of light. For you time has stopped. In front of you, you see everything that has ever fallen into this black hole. If you look back you see everything that will ever fall into the black hole. You are in between the past and future of this black hole.