Are you fond of trivia and random facts? Do you love science? Well, you’re in for a treat right now because we’ll be talking about one of the fascinating features of our Universe: black holes.
Black holes are regions of spacetime wherein matter is packed so densely, and the gravitational force is extremely strong that nothing – not even light – can escape from it. Physicists believe that the formation of black holes is caused by the corpse of a massive star collapsing in upon itself. Due to their incredibly dense centers, they can bend the fabric of spacetime.
If you want to increase your fascination with black holes, here are some facts that will surely blow your mind.
A Black Hole Can Be Millions of Times Bigger Than The Sun
Black holes are categorized according to their sizes. There are primordial black holes, stellar black holes, and supermassive black holes. Primordial black holes are the smallest ones, ranging from the size of an atom (but with a mass of an asteroid) to the size of a mountain. These black holes are also the oldest, forming just seconds after the Big Bang. Stellar black holes, on the other hand, can go up to a size 20 times bigger than the Sun. They are also the most common, and there’s a number of them existing throughout the Milky Way.
Then, there are supermassive black holes, believed to be millions of times more massive than the Sun. An example of a supermassive black hole is Sagittarius A, which exists in our Milky Way and which is bigger than the Sun 4 million times.
A Black Hole Can Stretch Anything into A Spaghetti-Like Strand
Under incredible gravitational pull, any object inching closer to the singularity or the center of a black hole can be stretched out like spaghetti. If you’re standing right now, you notice that your feet are closely attracted to the ground due to Earth’s gravity. In a black hole where extreme tidal forces exist, the attraction is very different.
A singularity can have a stronger impact on one end of your body, which is nearer the center of the black hole than the other, which is away from it. This phenomenon causes your body to be stretched into long thin shapes.
Black Holes Produce a Large Amount of Energy
According to Stephen Hawking, black holes are not devoid of light, as previously thought. A black hole has a glow of light caused by some radiation, which consists of neutrinos, photons, and other bigger particles.
The radiation is emitted by the formation and annihilation of particle-antiparticle pairs across vast areas of space. Once a pair nears the event horizon (the boundary around a black hole), one of the particles gets pulled in, while the other is discharged as radiation.
The particle that gets expelled produces energy, which is ten times the amount of nuclear fusion. The release of energy is also the reason why black holes evaporate until there’s nothing left of it. Given our current technology, it’s still far from possible to harness the energy generated from a black hole.
Black Holes Slow Down the Flow of Time
According to the theory of general relativity, massive objects distort time. It’s even true of Earth, which has a weak gravitational force. However, the effect of this warping of time is only negligible compared to what a massive gravitational body, such as a black hole, can do.
For instance, as you approach the event horizon of a black hole, time slows down. If you reach the event horizon, time practically stops or ends.
This is due to the black hole’s extreme gravitational pull. However, you won’t be aware of the slowing down of time yourself. You can only notice the effect if you compare your experience with someone far from the event horizon. For example, you can notice someone far from the black hole sped up, while that distant person can see you slowed down.
Black Holes Also Give Birth to Stars
Astrophysicists have discovered a weakened black hole helping a galaxy in the Phoenix Cluster to give birth to new stars at a rapid rate. What’s impressive is that it even controls the number of stars born in this galaxy.
The cause of this phenomenon is that the energy output from the black hole is too weak to heat its surroundings. This cools down the galaxy containing it, which results in the birth of new stars.
Black holes are indeed a fascinating feature of the Universe. Learning more about them holds us as if we are in a spell. But instead of stopping at what we already know, it leads us to seek more about the Universe we’re living in.