What are black holes?

17 September 2021

By Fraser

Black holes are one of the most enigmatic and fascinating concepts in the universe.

As terrifying as they are mind-boggling, black holes have been the subject of rigorous study and interpretation for many years now. So what exactly are they?

Black holes are a region of spacetime formed from the death of a giant star. The core collapses from the crushing pressure created by the massive gravity and causes the star to supernova in an instant.

What remains is a black hole, only a fraction of the size of the original star, but with the most insane amount of gravitational power in existence.

The gravity of a black hole is so strong that there is a point of space in its area that, if you crossed it, there is no escape. This is called the event horizon. If you stepped foot in there, you would need to travel faster than the speed of light to avoid being pulled inside. In other words, it’s impossible.

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Contrary to popular belief, black holes do not just suck you into them like a hoover. Due to the monumental gravity power, even time itself is altered by them. This is called dilation.

The closer you get to the black hole, time slows down. When you cross the event horizon, it will take you an infinite amount of time to actually reach the singularity in the centre.

If two people were on a spaceship, the person closest to the black hole would experience time a lot slower than the the one who was further away. If you were on a ship large enough, the effects would be catastrophic. If the far-away person ran from one side of the ship to the other, they’d find their friend may have aged significantly in the minutes he took to run there.

As for what happens if you ever fell into the singularity, it is a complete mystery.

The singularity is the middle point of the black hole, and science can’t begin to comprehend what even happens there. There are a few theories, though.

Unfortunately, the most likely scenario is that the gravity reaches an unimaginable excess there that you would be crushed into oblivion. You probably would experience that in the slow journey into the event horizon, so you wouldn’t even reach the middle.

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However, an interesting theory that is fervent in many science-fiction concepts is that black holes could secretly be wormholes. Wormholes are a structure that, upon entry, folds space between two points.

When exiting, the space snaps back to normal, and you are then in a completely different area of the universe. Such an interesting concept.

Whatever happens, there is no denying that black holes are such a fascinating anomaly in the universe. There’s a part of me that never wants their mysteries to be fully discovered. Partly because they would be less interesting, but also because there’s a chance the truth might just be worse than we ever imagined.

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