Black holes are a fascinating aspect of the universe. They’re densely packed areas of space where gravity’s force becomes so strong that nothing can escape it – not even light!
They’re created when stars die and collapse. They can vary in size, from star corpses a few times the mass of our sun to monsters millions or billions of times more massive.
1. They’re Messy Eaters
Black holes, the monsters of gravity that are so massive they’re invisible to light, tear stars and clouds of gas apart. Their harrowing death throes are one of the most fascinating phenomena in astronomy.
Supermassive black holes are found at the center of galaxies, causing nearby stars and gases to swirl around them. This ‘accretion’ of matter onto a black hole powers some of the most energetic objects in the Universe, including quasars and blazars.
But supermassive black holes are also messy eaters. Gravity can only cram so much gas down their maw before it begins to pile up around them, forming white-hot disks that emit intense radiation and push additional incoming material away.
2. They’re Invisible
A black hole is a mind-bending object in the cosmos, but they can be hard to see. Because of their intense gravity, they can’t escape or return light to the outside world, making them nearly impossible to spot.
Fortunately, scientists are using state-of-the-art space telescopes to uncover some fascinating facts about these mysterious monsters.
One of the most intriguing facts is that many black holes appear on radically different size scales. On one end are the stellar mass black holes, which are typically 10 to 24 times as massive as the Sun.
3. They’re Hot
Black holes are astrophysical objects of interest primarily because of their compact size and immense gravitational attraction. They were first predicted by Einstein’s 1915 theory of general relativity, but astrophysical evidence has only begun to mount in the last half-century.
For starters, a black hole’s event horizon is a point of no return—anything that passes beyond it is doomed to be crushed into dust and gas before it disappears forever. This means that black holes are utterly black and do not emit any light or heat, even though they absorb all of the energy that falls into them.
However, black holes are also surprisingly hot—especially the ones that have a supermassive mass like our Sun. Their disks of matter can fling out ultrafast streams of hot gas, or “winds,” that blast through their host galaxies. These winds can disrupt star formation or churn the material in their host galaxy into new stars.
4. They’re Dangerous
Black holes are some of the most fascinating things in the cosmos, but they’re also some of the most dangerous. They’re thought to lurk in the centre of most large galaxies, and their gravity can cause devastating effects on nearby stars and planets.
Most black holes form when a star with a mass of millions to billions of times that of our Sun dies in a supernova explosion. The outer layers of such a star spit out, and the core crumples down toward its central point with so much force that it creates a black hole with gravity so powerful that even light cannot escape.
But that’s not to say that a black hole would suck us in from the distances we live on Earth – they just aren’t cosmic vacuum cleaners, so you wouldn’t be able to fall into one. Instead, a black hole’s gravity would pull you into a sphere of space that’s around it, called the event horizon, which is so big and so powerful that you’d be crushed instantly, unable to breathe or even move.
5. They’re Not Always Dark
Black holes are one of the most fascinating things in the universe. They form when a star runs out of fuel and starts to collapse under its own gravity.
They can be as big as a mountain and as small as an atom. But the most intriguing kind are known as stellar black holes.
Scientists have found that these enigmatic spots in space eat up matter and convert it into energy through nuclear fusion. They are also the source of many powerful jets of cosmic material that can be observed from far away.
Another fun fact about black holes is that they can distort the fabric of spacetime. This is because of the way they pack an enormous amount of mass into a relatively small space.