A lot of people have heard the term 'black hole'. But like most things in space, there's a lot more to it than meets the eye. Humans have a tendency to assume the unknown, so here are 8 questions that are often asked by the general public.
1. What is a black hole?
A black hole is a region of space where gravity is so strong, anything that gets in, even light, can’t get out. The gravity of a black hole is this strong because a large quantity of matter has been compressed into a small space. Black holes form when a star dies. Due to the fact that light cant bounce back out of a black hole, we can’t see them. Special tools that are used to identify black holes have special features that enable the user to identify how certain stars, which are closer to black holes, act differently compared to other stars.
2. How can black holes be studied when they are black?
Nothing, as in even x-rays and other forms of light, can escape from the inside of the event horizon of a black hole. Once you enter the event horizon, the is no turning back. For example, NASA is studying black holes by looking at the surrounding area. Matter near black holes is being pulled so it glows when x-ray scans are taken of it. And in addition to that, the incredible powerful gravity of the blackholes makes space look distorted, so that can help locate a black hole.
3. How long does it take for black hole to form, and how do they do it?
There are two types of general black holes. A stellar-mass black hole has a mass ten times the mass of our Sun. These form in mere seconds, after the collapse of a massive star. But a neutron star can collide with a black hole, or two black holes can merge. But these are smaller than their counterparts, the supermassive black holes, which have masses millions or billions of that of the Sun. But the general formation time is unknown, we only know that it takes less than a billion years.
4. What happens if you fall into one?
5. What happens to the things that get trapped in a black hole?
6. Is Earth going to be sucked up by a black hole?
If Earth ever did get swallowed up by a black hole, then we would have to be REALLY, REALLY close to it. The 'closest' one is Sagittarius A*, which is only 25000 - 28000Funnily enough, the earth itself, if compressed to the size of a marble, would become a black hole. But there is not enough information anywhere to determine anything for sure.
7. Why can't light escape when it is the fastest thing to exist?
Light, being the fastest thing known to man cannot escape black holes and this is something that puzzles many. Scientists figured out that this is because of something very familiar to people: gravity. A black hole's gravitational field is so, so, strong, that even light can't escape. In an event horizon, the space is curved to such an extent that everything points to the inside. The light being sucked up into the black hole is what allows us to see them.
8. Did NASA send any satellites or probes to explore black holes?
According to NASA.gov, "NASA is learning about black holes using spacecraft like the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Swift satellite and the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Fermi launched in 2008 and is observing gamma rays - the most energetic form of light - in search of supermassive black holes and other astronomical phenomena".