Monday, May 23, 2022

What Black Holes Can Do and Where They Lead (In Simple Terms)

the existence of black holes was predicted over a century ago with nothing but math equations now we've taken the first photo of one but black holes still hold plenty of secrets like they're even more mysterious mirror twins white holes really .

Imagine if we could record a black hole on video watch it pull in and consume any matter that gets too close even light itself now take this recording and play it backwards this is what a white hole should be the black holes pushing away and matter spewing counterpart we'll bring it back down to earth go to .

Your kitchen sink turn on the faucet and see how water flows down into the drain this drain is a black hole its attraction is too powerful for a stream of water to escape but now focus on the stream itself where it meets the surface of the sink it bursts in all directions with such power that the water can't flow back .

This is what a white hole should be if you could blast off into space in a rocket you'd meet the biggest challenge the earth's gravity won't let you go except if your engines are extremely powerful and you're going fast enough to reach what's called escape velocity the black hole's gravity is so immense that escape velocity becomes completely .

Unreachable it's higher than the speed of light and nothing in the universe can go faster than that take this force of gravity and switch the direction now it pushes out instead of pulling in just like it can escape a black hole's power light can't get close to a white hole that's odd because a white hole has .

Mass so it should have gravity like any space object white holes should attract other matter to them just like the sun keeps the planets floating around it or the earth keeps your feet on the ground a black hole has outer borders called event horizons within them gravity is the most powerful if something goes .

Beyond this limit it won't ever escape a white hole's event horizon would be an impenetrable border not letting anything inside a black hole is constantly feeding on the matter around it huge clouds of gas and dust that don't get pulled into the hole end up swirling around it they form a luminous accretion disk flattened like .

That because it's spinning so fast unlike black holes their white twins probably don't rotate so they wouldn't have these halo-like discs there's no evidence that white holes as we imagine them actually lurk somewhere in the universe so far they're purely a mathematical theory plus a massive object constantly .

Spewing matter would have to be noticeable yet they're nowhere to be found but there are theories of what a white hole could be remember learning in school matter cannot be created or destroyed it means the total amount of mass and energy in the universe is constant for example when you burn a log everything in the .

End the soot ashes and gases will equal the materials put into it and no matter what happens to some particle it still contains information about its original state now this doesn't sit well with black holes scientists know that all the mass they have evaporates with time because black holes leak energy .

But even if a black hole lost all its mass it still won't give back the information about everything it consumed where does all that material go we're used to thinking that the source of a black hole might be a singularity in its center this is a single point so small yet so massive and dense that physics and math just break down it's .

Almost like it tears a hole in reality itself some astronomers think that instead of a singularity as a dense object in the center there must be an opening deep inside the black hole it might lead to another point in the universe or to a different universe entirely and what could be on that other .

End is a white hole this would solve the problem with information it simply goes somewhere else entirely instead of just disappearing another idea says that a white hole may be a brief period of a black hole's life cycle its ending if black holes steadily lose their mass they must eventually lose it all and .

Disappear but in this last stage of their life they might become whiteholes this would explain why we can't detect them since it's almost impossible to find an evaporated black hole their evaporation simply takes too long we know how black holes appear a star much bigger than the sun reaches an age .

When its own gravity makes it collapse in on itself in a supernova burst it's much harder to understand how a white hole would form unless it's also the result of aging but of a black hole instead of a star the first black holes in the history of the universe formed soon after the big bang happened and those ancient things .

Are great candidates to bring about white holes this idea also makes astronomers think that white holes might be teeny tiny smaller than the wavelength of light and those are the size of bacteria this would make them invisible to us nothing would react with them because of their repelling force and still they'd .

Have a certain mass in other words they'd be good candidates as the mysterious dark matter it makes up 85 percent of the universe yet we can't observe it some say the big bang itself is suspiciously similar to what a white hole should be a tiny dot that suddenly bursts out and .

Spreads in all directions producing all the matter that will one day become stars galaxies planets and life in 2006 a nasa satellite caught an extremely powerful gamma-ray burst here's the thing i find most terrifying we wouldn't notice the black hole until it's too late the only detail that could give away the approaching black hole is .

A slight blurring of distant stars due to the hull's gravitational lensing effect the gravitational field of a black hole is so powerful it actually bends light rays trying to pass it we may miss that cue but we'll definitely notice when the black hole starts pulling layers from the gas planets such as neptune jupiter or saturn it'll .

Create such a huge super hot cloud of dust and gas around itself that people of earth couldn't help but notice it seems unfair that something that small the tiniest black holes can be only 15 miles in diameter can consume things thousands of times bigger but before it eats any of our solar system it'll tear it all apart first you see our planets .

Are held in orbit by our sun's gravity as the gravitational pull of the black hole approaches each planet it'll play tug of war with our sun ripping them all to pieces as soon as the black hole reaches the asteroid belt between jupiter and mars we'll start to feel its bull super volcanoes will go off devastating .

Earthquakes will shake the ground and everything will crumble into dust and debris thanos style also contrary to what i used to believe black holes don't suck stuff in either suction can only be caused when something is getting pulled into the vacuum of space and a black hole is the opposite of space so don't worry if we .

Ever got close enough to one we'd never get sucked in we'd simply just fall in well that's comforting to know but it's not a drop kind of fall black holes like to make a show out of it before disappearing into the abyss anything that falls into the gravitational pull of a black hole will go through a process called .

Spaghettification i know i giggled when i heard the word for the first time too but it's no laughing matter basically if anything gets too close to a black hole before it falls in it gets scratched way out like a spaghetti noodle due to the hole's incredible gravity so yeah there's some food for thought .

Yum yum but don't worry about all this spaghetti talk according to scientific estimations the odds of a black hole coming across our solar system much less munching on our planet are lower than the chance of winning the lottery 10 times in a row in numbers that's one in a trillion that's a relief .

I have to say black holes are really cool the more i learn about them the more curious i get like what would happen if two supermassive black holes collided would they create a mega super duper massive black hole like two monster hurricanes colliding and merging together to create the most epic hurricane but in space .

It turns out that almost all galaxies in the universe have their own supermassive black holes in the center of them in some of these galaxies the black holes can be billions of times more massive than our sun now imagine what would happen when two galaxies became one their black holes would have to somehow agree to cohabitate and interact like .

Civilized well holes i guess but scientists believe that in the event two supermassive black holes come in contact either by spiraling inward and eventually touching or by direct collision it wouldn't be a peaceful merge instead because the forces are so great one of the black holes would get .

Kicked away at an incredible speed the most powerful kick can happen if the two black holes have been rotating in opposite directions it would be like two discs spinning incredibly fast coming together the weaker of the two black holes will get hurled out of the newly formed galaxy to never be heard from again and the winning black hole will .

Get rewarded with a huge amount of energy making the clouds of dust and gas surrounding it blaze for thousands of years now that's what i call star wars sorry so you're standing on a diving board in the middle of an open space you look down but that's not a pool it's a giant black hole .

Well what the heck you start swinging and then you jump the gravity of the black hole grabs you and you pick up speed just a little more and you'll enter the dark abyss but you're not afraid you're sure you can survive the fall into the black hole besides you have a clear goal to travel through time but first let's figure out .

How it works and why time stops near a black hole this is the space-time grid it's what our entire universe is made of and just like a regular grid it sags if you put something heavy on it like me for example let's put the planet earth here you see a little funnel that is formed around the earth and if you put a small ball next to the planet it'll roll .

Into the funnel that's how gravity works the heavier the object the more it bends space time by comparison here's the sun it's almost 333 000 times heavier than the earth so it makes a really big funnel so big that all the planets in our solar system move around that star inside that funnel so now let's put a black hole on a space-time grid its .

Centers are infinitely heavy so they create a limitless deep well and anything caught in the black hole's gravitational field can never leave it not even moving at the speed of light okay their gravity is infinitely strong but why do they slow down time it's all about the speed of light according to physics law the speed of light must be .

The same at every point in our universe even in a black hole so for our experiment we take this ball a photon of light that can travel 671 million miles per hour you could get from earth to the sun at that speed in eight minutes that's how long it takes light to travel from our star to our eyes so when you're looking at the sun you're .

Looking back in time eight minutes ago by the way don't look at it directly now the critical thing to remember here is that velocity consists of two physical quantities space miles and time hours we'll use that later now let's look at the black hole in our space-time grid in three-dimensional space it appears like this .

But if we assume that space is two-dimensional our grid looks like this when viewed from above just a lot of squares and this is the black hole right in the middle if you look at the grid from the side you'll see a straight line and the black hole here looks like a pit or like an endless well .

Now let's follow our photon of light in three-dimensional space here it's moving toward the black hole and then it falls into the well of the black hole and it continues its motion at a constant speed now the side view again the photon moves from left to right and then falls its velocity doesn't change .

The problems begin if you look at the experiment from above when the photon of light moves in the distance of the black hole its speed is stable but then it goes down into the well first it slows down and then it just stands still but it's moving downwards the photon moves in an arc down the well .

In the lower dimension without changing its speed but in the higher dimension it traveled a minimal distance at the same speed usually this would mean that the photon was moving at a low speed in the second case but not in the case of the speed of light remember it must be the same at every point in the universe .

The number 671 million miles per hour shouldn't change so we change the very parameters of that number time time itself must slow down so much that this slight movement of the photon when you look at it from above was at the same speed 671 million miles per hour but if you go down and look at this well .

Much lower you see that its walls are almost vertical so a photon of light would be moving in a vertical trajectory that means that if you look at it from above the photon will just be standing still again its velocity can't change so time will vary at that point it should just stop this is what happens near a black .

Hole now if you look at a black hole you can see this effect in action it swallows up the light around it but as for an observer it seems to you that the light stays in orbit around the black disk in fact at that moment the photons are still moving at the speed of light inside the black hole it's because time has slowed down there so much that you .

Feel like the light has stopped there this disc is called the event horizon the point of no return the last stop before you go into the black abyss and at the very center of the black hole is the singularity this point of space is so dense that if you tried to describe it with any numbers or physical quantities they would all tend toward .

Infinity simply put all the laws of physics we know just stop working here so scientists can't say exactly what awaits you in the singularity before you make that jump into the black hole let's drop a space probe there with a blue light that flashes once per second and let's attach giant clocks to it .

You see the probe falling into the black hole gaining speed but then it starts to slow down moreover the probe flattens out and seems to spread out around the black hole and then you notice that the blue beacon on the probe has changed its light it now flashes as red it's because the light is a wave .

Blue is a truly short wave with a high frequency but the black hole's gravity acts on this wave stretching it out the light waves get lengthened to become broader and less frequent the new wavelength and frequency match with the red color it's called red shift also the probe blinks now not once a second in short beeps but lights up and .

Goes out for a long time it's because of the time warp if you as an observer look at the clock on the probe the second hand there barely moves however the clock on your hand works as usual but if you could be in a black hole time would seem normal to you and the arrow on the clock would move as it did before but the hands on .

The clock outside the black hole would move like crazy to you that's because time goes much faster outside the black hole black holes are like omnivores they'll eat anything in their way if it gets close enough including planets stars clouds of gas or some very unfortunate .

Intergalactic travelers not that it really gets hungry and goes after space objects it simply swallows whatever comes nearby it stretches giant space bodies until they're thin like spaghetti and rips them apart atom by atom a black hole is a huge amount of matter that comes in a very small package it's like you squeeze a star 10 times bigger .

And more massive than the sun into a small area with the diameter of new york city you get an extremely massive compact and dense pit with gravity so strong not even light can escape not even another black hole they don't have a fixed point in space stars planets asteroids comets black holes and everything in the universe is .

In constant motion that's why things get so chaotic from time to time researchers found a giant black hole at the heart of one galaxy being eaten by an even bigger one a black hole can get extremely big at the centers of most giant galaxies are black holes that can grow millions to .

Billions of times the mass of our sun one of the ways to become so big is by eating others of its kind a black hole merging with another black hole is one of the most energetic and powerful things in the universe picture this 1.3 billion years ago two black holes are circling around each other the bigger one pulls the smaller .

Black hole inwards and now they're locked together in a spiral through time that orbit starts decaying but very very slowly these two black holes are constantly getting closer and closer as they approach one another the discs of orbiting dust and gases that surround them mix and create an intense towering vortex it extends and goes pretty high .

Above the center of that disc at some point they finally merge into one extra big super massive black hole as they're merging they kick out gravitational waves these waves tell us a lot about black holes but they can't reveal their precise position so scientists need some electromagnetic signal that will find the black hole's .

Location like radio waves x-rays or a flash of light we can't see black holes but we can detect their effect on space objects that are surrounding them when a black hole passes through a cloud of matter its strong gravity will pull matter inward if a star or a planet comes close enough the same will happen .

The attracted matter then accelerates which means starts to move very quickly and heats up the black hole then starts emitting x-rays that radiate in the areas surrounding it the energy of x-rays affects the neighborhood and can for example spur the growth of new stars and finally bam they collide it's a massive burst of energy one of the .

Biggest bangs ever since the big bang in less than a second that collision emitted more energy than all of the stars in the visible universe together at the same time black holes can become huge but not necessarily stellar mass black holes have a mass similar to the sun and they can be very small the one scientists found in 2019 is located 10 .

000 light years away from us and is only 12 miles across they really have a reputation for destruction but black holes are just another source of gravitational force similar to stars that means it's possible for a space body to orbit them if it moves fast enough of course let's say there's a .

Black hole with the same mass as the sun the speed a space body would have to move at is the same as the one needed to orbit our sun if the distance is the same that's a theory in reality planets don't really orbit black holes because those that have a .

Mass similar to our parent star are mostly the remnants of giant stars that ran out of nuclear fuel and eventually exploded that's how black holes are created in the first place and chances are that none of those planets nearby will survive it but 30 years ago scientists discovered the first planets beyond our solar .

System these planets were found orbiting a pulsar which is also some sort of supernova remnant we don't know how they survived the explosion of their parent star it's possible they may have been created after the destruction from debris that formed after the explosion scientists even have a theory that black .

Holes are possibly wormholes something like tunnels to other galaxies that means they don't destroy objects they swallow but send them somewhere the theory says the object that enters and then goes out on the other side leaves the tunnel through something opposite of the black hole a white hole it probably looks similar to its .

Companion with all that spinning and similar mass there could be a ring of gas and dust around the event horizon the event horizon is the point of no return the part of a black hole where nothing escapes unlike a black hole a white hole lets light and all the matter leave but none of that will be able to enter the portal .

Once again somewhere deep underground in super secret laboratories scientists are trying to create a black hole it looks like the latest experiment was a success the black hole hovers above the desk for a moment but then in a split second it swallows it whole uh-oh .

After its meal the black hole grows until it is out of control microscopes and test tubes fly into the dark void soon everything in the room has been consumed each time it eats it grows bigger and bigger and attracts even larger objects on the surface people go about their day as usual some joggers stop their run .

When they see a giant black sphere growing in the distance houses are torn from their foundations and cars fly through the air towards the black abyss in just a few minutes the black hole has enveloped our entire planet then it grows big enough to consume the moon and mars the black hole is now heavier than anything in our solar system all of the .

Planets begin to circle it before becoming food for the monster finally even the sun is extinguished in the belly of the beast well that was pretty bleak yeah don't worry this isn't how the scenario would play out in real life our scientists may actually be capable of creating a black hole but is far safer than this .

The effort to make a black hole is led by the scientists working in geneva on something called the large hadron collider this machine basically makes particles move at high speeds until they collide when this happens they release a lot of energy and create a lot of interesting effects scientists think that energy released by .

These collisions might be enough to create a black hole some people were so worried by this that they even tried to ban the construction of the large hadron collider luckily if a black hole did appear it would be so small that it wouldn't be able to do anything black holes actually produce a lot of energy and release it .

Often as heat like a furnace that means that they will fade away when they run out of fuel if one appeared in the experiment it would instantly burn out and disappear in a billionth of a second even if a stable microscopic black hole was created it would grow so slowly that nothing would happen .

Assuming that it survived long enough to absorb the tiny particles around it a black hole of this size would take about half a trillion years to gain a pound of weight black holes could actually be really useful one with the mass of mount everest would emit enough energy to completely power humanity even better black holes are so dense that the one .

This big would only take up a tiny bit of space we couldn't create anything as enormous as the naturally occurring black holes though some can weigh hundreds of thousands of times as much as our sun recently scientists have observed a real black hole feast the side of a black hole tearing an enormous star apart is .

One of the most mesmerizing sights in the universe heavier and more destructive than anything else in existence the black hole is both amazing and terrifying and black holes aren't actually black at all they're so massive that even light can't escape their pool meaning that they're actually invisible scientists .

Can only find them with special instruments most natural black holes are born as stars reach the end of their lifespan you can picture healthy stars as giant furnaces that burn hydrogen and give off unbelievable amounts of energy every second stars like our sun produce more energy than humanity has ever produced .

Which pushes outwards and makes it want to expand this is what eventually finds its way to earth as the heat that birth life on our planet the only thing stopping this expansion is gravity a force that basically just pulls objects toward something heavy most people know gravity is something that keeps us planted to the ground and .

Stops us from flying off into space the force of gravity of a star is so strong on stars that it makes them want to implode in on themselves so when a star is healthy the force of gravity pushes inwards and the energy it releases tries to inflate it like a balloon these forces mostly cancel each other .

Out and stop it from doing much at all when a star burns through its fuel though nothing is pushing outwards to stop it from collapsing in on itself some really big stars make so much energy that they gradually expand into something called a red giant when they run out of fuel they cool and gravity pushes the enormous object into a tiny .

Space scientists use our sun to measure how big things in space are our sun weighs one solar mass if a light star like our sun implodes not much happens which is lucky if you've ever worried about being swallowed up into a black hole if a red giant around 10 solar masses implodes though some incredible things .

Can happen the collapse of one of these is so intense that it explodes into a supernova releasing a light as bright as the entire galaxy stars that are massive enough to produce supernovas sometimes become black holes their weight causes gravity to push down and compact them until they collapse into a black hole in less than a second .

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