Black holes, what are they? How do they form and can the Earth fall into one?

The universe is full of wonderful things, for example: black holes. These are the ones that can cause panic, but at the same time, they are one of the great wonders of the cosmos.

Not only that, but some forecasts indicate that the number of black holes could be even greater than the number of visible stars. Currently, much more information is known about them, however, there are many details that, even today, are completely unknown.

What are black holes?

In some cases, these massive objects are often called holes or wells and this is mainly due to their main characteristic. To begin with, we must know that these are cold remnants of ancient starsdense that no material particle, not even light, can escape. Imagine how powerful these objects are, that they have the ability to absorb light, making use of their powerful gravitational force.

In most cases, stars end up as white dwarfs or neutron stars. However, in the case of these objects they represent a last phase in the evolution of huge stars. In fact, for a star to end up in a black hole, it has to be 10 to 15 times larger than our sun.

It is precisely these stars that, upon reaching their final stage of life in a final act known as a supernova, become such objects. This is something that we will explain a little later, but for now let's keep this detail in mind.

Albert Einstein and the “Schwarzschild singularities”

If there is something that, without a doubt, is interesting, it is discovering how a genius like Einstein conceived of these large objects, and that is that he himself did not refer to them by the name of black holes. In fact, he did not call them that way in his time, but instead chose to call them " Schwarzschild singularities ".

In his time, Einstein, spoke about space and time in the universe , providing data that today is fundamental for science. To understand this, we have to first imagine space and time as a flat, flexible surface or sheet. With this image in our brain, we can deduce that if space-time were empty, its surface would be completely flat.

However, this is not the case and it is due to the great celestial bodies that occupy a space in the cosmos and with this we are not only referring to the stars, like our sun, but also to planets like ours.

Both bodies have an impact on the cosmos and that is that they deform the sheet creating a curve. If we use the Sun as an example, it generates a much greater curvature than that produced by a planet, such as the Earth.

The latter is due to the fact that the first has a greater mass than the second, which generates gravity. In other words, the more mass a body has, the greater curvature it will create in the space-time around it, so the gravity will be greater.

Now when a massive star cools, the greater the curve that is generated in the space-time around it. But this does not end there, but at a point the size will be so immense that it will generate a black hole in space-time or a "Schwarzschild singularity".

What is singularity?

In all this topic of black holes, there is a particular concept that we must not forget and that is that of singularity. First of all, we must remember that science states that everything that falls into these objects cannot escape. If we go to what the fundamental laws of physics tell us, we find how it is established that at the bottom of these objects there is a point called singularity.

The latter is a region where space and time are infinitely deformed and cease to exist. Therefore, once matter falls into that region, it is completely destroyed. All of this has sparked the public imagination, to the point where there has been talk of “wormholes”.

The latter are tunnels where it is possible to travel through space and time. However, there is a problem with these and that is that to date their existence has not been proven, much less is it known if they can be experimented with at some point

How are these massive objects formed?

When it comes to the formation of black holes, it has not been difficult to determine how it is, since at the moment no theory has been considered definitive. Therefore, any hypothesis about its formation, enters among the current explanations. If we can as an example to Stephen Hawking he told us about these objects, but in a somewhat different way.

Specifically, it postulates the idea that “black holes dissolve slowly”. However, major objects of this type are thought to have formed in the early universe, more specifically shortly after the Big Bang. Thus, stellar objects formed when the center of a very massive star consumes all its fuel, collapses and explodes, in what we call a supernova.

After this, the debris collapses and transforms into a very compact object, called a black hole. This brings us to the point of Can our Sun become one of these objects? According to research, our Sun does not have enough mass to collapse and become a black hole.

In fact, our star will become in its final cycle (billions of years from now) a red giant star. After this, it will eventually become a planetary nebula and end up as a white dwarf star.

An important point to note is that according to theories, supermassive holes, formed at the same time as the galaxy in which they are located. The latter is largely due to the relationship between the size of the hole with the mass of the galaxy in which they are usually found.

What is the theoretical classification of black holes?

According to its origin, it is said that we can find two classes of black holes. This classification is done as follows;

According to its mass

  • Supermassive; These holes are formed by Suns with several million masses and are usually found in the heart of many galaxies. They are formed in the process that gives rise to the spherical components of galaxies.
  • Intermediate Dough or IMDH; They are those with a mass in a range of 100 to one million solar masses, which is significantly greater than that of stellar holes. But it is less than the previous ones.
  • Stellar mass; They form with stars of more than 30 to 70 solar masses, after a supernova forms and implodes. Their core is concentrated in a very small volume which is reduced over time.
  • Micro black holes; The first thing we need to know about these is that they are hypothetical objects and are obviously smaller holes than stellar ones. In fact, if they are small enough they can evaporate in a short period of time by emitting Hawking radiation.

According to its charge and angular momentum

In this case, we speak of a theorem about these objects, where it is stated that any object that undergoes a gravitational collapse reaches a stationary state similar to that of black holes

These are described in just three parameters, one is its mass (M), another is its charge (Q) and the last one is its angular momentum (J). If we take into account the last two physical properties, the following classification is born;

  • Schwarzschild black hole; They do not rotate or have a load.
  • Reissner-Nordstrom black hole; It does not rotate and has an electrical charge.
  • Kerr black hole; Broken but no load.
  • Kerr-Newman black hole; They rotate and have load.

How can we see them?

It is obvious that these objects are black and if so, how is it that we can see them? The question to this is somewhat curious since, in reality, we cannot do it. In fact, what astrophysicists get to do is see the effects that a black hole's massive gravity has on its environment.

In the case of the famous image of these objects, what was captured was the accretion disk or rather the cloud of matter trapped in the gravitational field of a black hole. Which is very hot and therefore it emits radiation.

In this way, this material is heated and little by little a part of it is precipitated towards the interior of the black hole. Which occupies the central portion of the image, which is still dark.

Fortunately for many, this is not the only way for experts to identify where one of these objects might be. Due to its enormous gravity, it has a clear impact on other objects in its environment, for example, on stars and planets.

Put more clearly, if astrophysicists can see a set of stars and planets orbiting around a clearly defined central point and there is nothing at that location, it is most likely of a black hole.

Can an object of this type disappear?

Contrary to popular belief, black holes are not actually eternal and Stephen Hawking was the first physicist to realize this. In fact, he himself stated that they are not actually completely black, since they emit a little radiation. Which in honor of its discoverer was called “Hawking radiation”.

This form of radiation occurs at the event horizon and its origin has a fairly complete quantum effect, so we won't go into detail about it. It is precisely this detail that intuitively tells us that black holes effectively lose mass and energy over time.

Then, there will come a time when it will lose it completely and it will fade or evaporate. However, there is a problem and that is that the time that has to pass for this to happen is extremely long, as long as the age of the universe itself. Therefore, it is thought that this has not yet happened to a cosmic black hole.

Can the earth fall into a black hole?

Generally speaking, land falling on such an object can happen, however the odds are not in your favor. This can happen, but is unlikely to do so. In fact, if it were to happen, we would have some warnings.

As reported by astronomer Christopher Springod, despite the fact that thousands of light years separate Earth from the nearest black hole (located in the Milky Way) it cannot be ruled out in a 100% that the earth can fall into one. He himself affirms that this could happen if our galaxy were to merge or collide with another.

Scientists have proven that there is very little chance that the earth will fall into a small black omen. There, where we would be close enough to the supermassive black hole.

Regarding what would happen to us, there are many hypotheses. Although, the “spaghettistion” is the best known and it is that being close to an object of this type we will stretch, as happens with spaghetti.

This phenomenon is due to a gravitational gradient that would pass through our body, in other words, our body would experience different degrees of this force. In simple terms, it would be bad news for both us and the Earth.


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