YOUR WEEKLY DOSE OF WOWZERS AND WONDER FROM THE NATURAL WORLD
If you want to find this week’s featured topic, you’ll have to look for something you can’t even see!
That’s right, we’re learning about black holes!
While black holes may seem unbelievable, and can be really hard to fathom, they actually do exist in the cosmos, and they continue to fascinate scientists around the world.
We hope today’s feature really draws you in!
Unlike most things in space—such as nebulas, planets, stars, moons, or asteroids—black holes don’t actually have a surface.
You can’t land on one or even touch one.
Albert Einstein predicted their existence in his general theory of relativity in 1916, but scientists didn’t discover the first black hole until 1971!
They range in size from primordial black holes—the size of a single atom—to supermassive black holes—the size of up to one million of our suns!
Their gravitational pull is so strong that nothing can escape them—not even light!
This means that scientists can’t technically see black holes, which explains their name.
By looking for patterns in how nearby stars, space dust, gas fields, and even entire galaxies behave, scientists have figured out ways to determine where black holes might be found.
There’s actually scientificdebate happening right now around whether the center of our own Milky Way galaxy is a black hole, or clumps of dark matter—another super cool, but super mysterious thing you’ll find in space.
Four of the most well-known black holes include:
Black holes form as part of the end-of-cycle of large stars.
They explode—creating what’s known as a supernova. When the mass of the star is great enough, it will then collapse back in on itself, creating a super-dense point called a singularity.
This singularity has unimaginable gravity, sucking in anything within range of a ring around the point.
This ring is called the event horizon.
As the black hole draws in more mass, it can actually grow in size, pulling in more and more things from the space around it.
While it might sound scary to think of these giants in space sucking up everything in sight, they eventually evaporate through a process explained by quantum mechanics, ultimately releasing their energy back into the universe.
So unless you plan on zooming lightyears into space anytime soon, these mysterious vortexes are nothing to worry about!
The gravity around black holes is so strong that it can warp time and space. This means that black holes can actually slow time down!
Black holes aren’t sitting still. They are actually spinning at nearly the speed of light, making it almost impossible for anything nearby to avoid orbiting the singularity.
The first image of a black hole (or the astronomical object material surrounding it) was captured in 2019 by scientists exploring the M87 black hole at the center of the Virgo A (NGC 4486) galaxy.
The material spiralling around a black hole is called the accretion disc. It is the main way that scientists spot black holes in space.
Take a look at some of the time, space, and mind-bending science surrounding black holes with Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell.