Black Holes Are Not Evil Space Vacuums, Another Misconception

Black holes can often be misunderstood. Or mistaken for evil.

What are they actually? They are very fascinating objects in a space where matter is compressed into a very dense area. If the Earth were to break into a (virtually) black hole, it would be less than an inch in diameter. However, the object would still be extremely heavy because it would contain the entire mass of our planet.

result? A place where gravity is so strong that not even light can escape. (The more mass, the stronger the gravity.)

This could make black holes look like omnipotent and terrifying objects with an insatiable diet of stars and planets. But this is not the case. They are not a threat to the universe. Astrophysicist Misty Bentz told Mashable: “We tend to anthropomorphize these things. But in reality, black holes aren’t evil, mean, or scary. They just is.”

Below we discuss some misconceptions about black holes, including Sagittarius A*, a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. Astronomers have recently captured an unprecedented image of this cosmic giant.

NASA illustration showing a superheated accretion disk around a black hole. Also shown are energy jets emitted from matter outside the black hole.
Credit: NASA

See also:

See the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole in the first picture

Black holes have no special gravity.

Nothing we know of can escape from inside a black hole. Something must be moving faster than the speed of light. It travels from Earth to the Moon in approximately one second. — run away It can make black holes appear to wield excessive gravity. But not necessarily.

“There’s nothing special about a black hole’s gravity,” Douglas Gobeille, an astrophysicist and black hole researcher at the University of Rhode Island, told Mashable.

In fact, if the sun were to be replaced by a black hole of the same mass, most planets would continue to orbit the sun as they do today, and only the closest planets would notice some. assistance in a black hole. And if the Earth were replaced by a black hole of the same mass, the Moon’s orbit wouldn’t change much either. This is because the mass revolving around it remains the same.

but things change when something is nearby Black hole (“closer” is relative and depends on the size of the black hole). What’s unique about black holes is how close objects can get. overall Such an intensely dense and massive object. If you somehow visited the surface of the sun, you still wouldn’t be right next to an object with a density close to that of a black hole. Supermassive black holes millions to billions of times more massive than the Sun are “relatively close” It could mean 100 million miles away..

“If you get close to a black hole, you’ll feel a huge gravitational force,” Kobeyu said.

black hole at the center of the Milky Way

The first image of Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the center of our galaxy.
Credit: Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

Black holes don’t constantly suck everything up.

Just because a black hole can exert a strong gravitational force on a passing object doesn’t mean that it “sucks up” anything in space.

“Some people imagine they are Hoovers. [vacuum cleaners] “Of course that’s not true,” Jean Creighton, astronomer and director of the Manfred Olsen Planetarium at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee told Mashable. The Milky Way continues to suck in new stars, but fortunately not for us. “They are not vacuum cleaners, otherwise we will be one,” agreed Gobeille.

However, matter or light passing nearby can be dragged around the black hole. However, only a tiny fraction of this material actually falls into a black hole, is “consumed” and never comes back.

“Black holes are terrible for food. They are famous for eating well,” Gobeille said.

Black holes are terrible for eating.

But things get even more intense when matter gets closer to a black hole. objects such as stars Literally straight, or “spaghettiized”, by gravity. This material collects in a ring called an accretion disk, causing the material to rotate rapidly and overheat to millions of degrees. (The hot accretion disk allowed astronomers to image the first black hole, revealing the black hole.) Eventually, some of this accumulated material spirals into the black hole, but most is spewed back into space. The material is ejected by the natural movement of the rapidly rotating disc.

It’s definitely a messy dining situation. “It’s pretty difficult for a black hole to feed in an efficient way,” explains Gobeille. Only about 1% of the cosmic matter that attracts around our galaxy’s supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* actually enters. NASA notes.

But when something falls into a black hole, it means that it has passed a point of no return called the “event horizon”. “This is the final point,” Marco Ajello, an astrophysicist at Clemson University who studies supermassive black holes and galaxies, told Mashable. He hypothesized that a person could use a flashlight just outside the event horizon. But once they cross, the light cannot escape back into space.

“Most black holes sit there quietly.”

But most black holes are not eating anything. The reason is that they neither seek nor absorb anything. Compared to the galaxies they occupy, supermassive black holes also take up little space. Things must pass.

“Most black holes sit there quietly,” Ajello explained.

A black hole is not exactly a hole. Or is that correct?

Black holes obviously contain huge amounts of matter. It has a shape (spherical). And other matter interacts with black holes. So astrophysicists often classify them as objects, albeit unusual. “It’s a fantastically strange object,” said Ajello.

It’s appropriate to label black holes as “objects” or “things,” astrophysicist Dominic Pesce at the Center for Astrophysics-Harvard and Smithsonian tells Mashable that he studies supermassive black holes. And others could reasonably choose to describe them as “regions,” he noted.

But even if someone claims that black holes are actually “holes”, there are still reasonable arguments.

“I think black holes are sometimes called ‘holes’ in the observable universe in the sense that they enclose a space-time area from which an outside observer cannot gather any information,” Pesce said.

black hole illustration

An artist’s concept of a black hole. As hot matter orbits the disk, energy is released out of the black hole.
Credit: XMM-Newton/ESA/NASA

Black holes are not stubborn cosmic vacuums with unnatural gravity. But the general notion that they are deeply creepy is certainly a reality. Many aspects of black holes, especially their interiors, still remain a mystery.

As astronomer Creighton said, “We have no way to probe the interior of a black hole. Only researchers can theorize what might happen thereAn area where time and space are thought to collapse.

What we know about black holes stems from the way things interact with them. Outside the event horizon, of course. For example, as a black hole splits or engulfs a star, a swirling disc of a hole of superheated matter can glow or release bursts of energy into space. Sometimes these invisible objects can essentially scream into space. Our Special telescopes and radio antennasIt detects this energy and reveals their activity or presence, such as used by astronomers who recently imaged the black hole at the center of our galaxy.

In the years to come, this gigantic instrument will continue to uncover more secrets about our universe’s curious black holes and capture unprecedented images. Without them we would be in darkness.

“There is literally nothing that humans can see and hear in space,” Kobeyu said.

Leave a Comment