Monday, March 5, 2012

Black Holes

Black holes are regions of space that have such massive gravitational pull that not even light can escape. No one has ever directly seen a black hole. There is thought to be one in the center of our galaxy, 40,000 times larger than the sun.

How is a black hole formed? There are many theories. The most common is that when a big star, about three times the size of the sun, reaches the end of its life, its stability cracks under its own gravity. The radius of the star shrinks and it starts to devour everything that's close enough. We cannot actually see a black hole. However, we can see the area of space affected by it. It is the event horizon, where there is no light. It is called a horizon because, like a horizon on our own planet, we cannot see beyond it.

If you enter an event horizon of a black hole, you will start to accelerate under the influence of gravity. You may start to orbit around the black hole, bumping into other pieces of matter. The jostling might throw you away from the black hole, or it might knock you into it. It won't go black as you go over the event horizon. You'll be able to see what's outside of the event horizon. The light everywhere will appear strange and distorted by the gravity.

If you look down, you'll see the singularity, which is a point where all physical laws have, basically, become indistinguishable from each other. At this point, you will begin to stretch and very quickly loose interest in what is going on around you. Fortunately, this should be fairly quick. Predictions about the inside of a black hole can be made, but it eventually gets too weird for science to describe. And a visit to a black hole is highly inadvisable.

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