Black Holes? Those are pretty cool, right?
(As a quick note, both of these pictures are artists’ depiction of black holes- not actual pictures. We have no actual pictures of black holes- we simply know they exist by their gravitational pull, and can locate them this way also.)
This news article that I discovered while browsing the HuffPost talks about black holes. I am currently in an Astronomy class, and the science part of space has always fascinated me, especially mysterious things like black holes (notice I said the science part, not the Math part.) Black holes are so massive that their amazing pull of gravity distorts space and time. They are pitch black because even light cannot escape their gravitational pull- this is why they are still one of the few parts of our world that is unexplored, and why they are so mysterious and fascinating to people.
So what are they?
If you were to take a step into a black hole, your body would most closely resemble “toothpaste being extruded out of the tube,” said Charles Liu, an astrophysicist who works at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium. Your body would dissolve into a stream of particles, swirling in the black hole, in just seconds. Liu said that when an object crosses a black hole’s “event horizon”, also known as its “outer boundary” and its “point of no return,” the same physics that causes Earth’s ocean tides begins to take effect. Gravity’s strength decreases with distance, so when that line is crossed, the gravitational pull sucks in everything that crosses, and is so strong that nothing can escapte- in fact, many things are crushed by the sheer force of gravity.
There are, of course, many, many theories about black holes distorting time and space. And the reality is, these theories are not proven wrong or right yet. We simply do not know enough about these black holes to really know their effect on these things. However, here’s a statement from Liu about the possibility of time travel (I thought it was pretty amazing):
“First of all, you approach the speed of light as you fall into the black hole. So the faster you move through space, the slower you move through time,” he said. “Furthermore, as you fall, there are things that have been falling in front of you that have experienced an even greater ‘time dilation’ than you have. So if you’re able to look forward toward the black hole, you see every object that has fallen into it in the past. And then if you look backwards, you’ll be able to see everything that will ever fall into the black hole behind you.”
Pretty amazing what our world has, huh?