Black Holes

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A black hole. Scientifically, it is defined as a region in space that holds matter compacted so tightly it takes up no space, and this results in such a powerful gravitational pull that even light cannot escape (The Scientific American). Because blackholes suction in all surrounding light, humans cannot detect them with the naked eyes, thus the name black hole.

What are The Types of Black Holes?[edit]

“There are four different kinds of black holes: stellar, intermediate, supermassive, and miniature.” (National Geographic) and each of these weigh and form differently. A stellar black hole forms at the death of a star. When a star dies, it often results in a supernova or a large explosion that flings the remnants of the star in different directions while the core of the star stays in place. When the star was still alive, it produced an opposing force through nuclear fusion to prevent the star from caving in on itself. However, once the star has exploded, the core will cave in on itself, and if the caves into an extremely tiny point, then a black hole is formed. (National Geographic). Stellar black holes can weigh anything from three solar masses to ten. That means they weigh between 3 to 10 times the mass of our sun. Most of this mass is from the original mass of the start, and any other weight comes from the matter the black hole attracts through its gravitational pull. Intermediate black holes are the next kind of black holes that have been discovered. Scientists do not know exactly how these kinds of black holes are made however they have proposed a theory that these kinds of black holes are made when several stars fuse together. Because intermediate black holes can weigh anywhere from 100 to 1000 solar masses, scientists do not believe that these kinds of black holes occur through the death of a single star. Lastly, we have supermassive and miniature black holes. Supermassive black holes are formed when smaller stars collide with one another to form extremely large stars which then undergo stellar death, creating supermassive black holes (NASA). These black holes can weigh either millions or billions of solar masses. They are huge! Miniature black holes on the other hand are extremely tiny. They are expected to be formed right after the Big Bang when expanding space trapped small pockets of matter, codesing them into small black holes. These black holes weigh around less than three solar masses and are extremely small compared to intermediate and supermassive black holes. After learning about the massive sizes of black holes, one can’t help but wonder how big the biggest black hole is. The biggest black hole that is known to humans weighs 66 billion solar masses. That is 66 billion times the weight of our Sun (! But many wonder how long it takes for them to form and reach such massive weight. To our disappointment, very little is known about this topic. For all we know, it could take hundreds of years, or just the blink of an eye (NASA). What we do know is that it takes less than a billion years for a black hole to reach massive size. For example, when an intermediate black hole is formed, it ingests more mass and may eventually become a supermassive black hole.

What Would Happen If We Went Into A Black Hole?[edit]

The closest black hole, V616 Monocerotis or A0620-00, is about 1,000 light-years away, or roughly 9.5 thousand, million, million km. This does not sound very close, but in reality, if we look at this distance on a universal scale, the black hole is practically right next to earth. But, there is no need to worry. Black holes do not have a strong enough gravitational field to swallow planets or the Sun. If one were to be sucked into a black hole, there is not any information as to where they would go because there is no insight into what life is like inside.

How Do We See Black Holes if They Are "Black"?[edit]

One question that we encountered was that if black holes are “black,” how do scientists know they are there? As we learned previously, a black hole pulls in any light around it, making it impossible for us to see them. However, scientists can identify black holes by looking at the effects of gravity on its stars and gases around them. For example, if a star was orbiting a certain point in space, scientists could study its orbit to see if it was following a path or being pulled in circles by the gravity of a black hole. Another way is when a black hole and a star orbit closely together, producing high-energy light. Scientific instruments catch the sight of this light. There is one more way to detect a black hole. When a black hole has a gravitational pull strong enough to pull gas and dust from the surrounding stars, a ring of gas and dust begins circling the black hole. The ring is known as an“Accretion Disk. Scientists can use this ring to identify a black hole. When this gas from the disk eventually spirals into the black hole, the gas heats to a very high temperature causing X-ray light to release in all directions. These X -rays are detected by a special telescope and this allows scientists to identify a black hole. Through these methods, black holes can be detected.

How Do Black Holes Die?[edit]

Despite how massive they are, it is possible for black holes to die. Normally, every particle has a counter particle. This means that every negative particle has a positive counter particle to balance both out, however, things are different at the entrance of black holes. In black holes, as Steven Hawking theorized, it is possible for only one particle of 2 particles to get sucked into the black hole. If that particle has a negative charge, essentially it subtracts mass from the black hole and it begins to emit positive particles out. This emission is known as Hawking radiation. As this process continues to happen, over an elongated period of time the black hole shrinks and eventually evaporates or explodes.


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