What Is a Black Hole and How Does One Form?

The oldest and most interesting things in space are black holes. Since they have such a powerful gravitational pull, not even light could escape their grip. There might be as many as 100 million black holes in the Milky Way, but finding them is very challenging. Sagittarius A*, a supermassive black hole, is located in the centre of the Milky Way.

There are around 26,000 light-years between Earth and the massive object. It has a mass 4 million times that of the Sun. The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration took the first picture of a black hole in 2019 and published it online. It was a stunning image of the M87 galaxy’s black hole that enthralled astronomers across the globe.

Discovery of a Black Hole

Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which he wrote in 1916, was the first to say that black holes existed. It was several years later, in 1967, that American astrophysicist John Wheeler came up with the name “black hole”. The first black holes were discovered after decades of them just being theoretical.

Black holes have been found all around the cosmos, but Cygnus X-1 was the first to be discovered. According to NASA, the first evidence of a black hole was discovered in 1964 when one sounding rocket spotted celestial X-ray sources. For the first time ever, in 1971, scientists discovered that the source of the radiation was an unusually brilliant blue star that was circling an unknown dark object. One theory indicated that the observed high levels of X-rays were due to the dark object—an all-consuming black hole—eating stellar material that had been stripped off the brilliant star.

Defining Black Holes

A black hole can be defined scientifically in a few words. For the most part, a black hole is an object that is so dense that even light cannot leave it. Any mass object can turn into a black hole if it is compressed to an extreme density. In order to make the Earth a black hole, you would have to shrink it down to only a few inches wide.

When an object is dense enough to form a black hole, it is known as the Schwarzschild Radius. According to its mass, an object’s Schwarzschild Radius changes. Jupiter, for example, has a higher Schwarzschild Radius because it is larger than Earth. Black holes can now be defined using the most basic of scientific terms, but this does not teach us anything about how they develop or what their features are.

How Do Black Holes Form?

In this cosmos, nothing is everlasting. Even the brightest stars fall to Earth at some point in time. It all comes down to mass regarding how a star becomes extinct. Black holes are inevitable for the most massive stars inside the cosmos. Hydrogen and helium predominate in all-stars, regardless of mass. Nuclear fusion is the process by which hydrogen atoms fuse to generate helium in a star’s core at very high temperatures and pressures.

Only a limited quantity of hydrogen may be found in the universe’s stars. Every star eventually runs out of its major fuel supply, hydrogen, much like a vehicle that has run out of gas and cannot be refuelled. Because of the enormous amount of energy generated by the star’s core hydrogen fusion, the star is able to maintain equilibrium despite its own gravitational pull.

When the star runs out of hydrogen, the balance is shattered, and the star begins falling under its weight. The star’s pressure increases substantially as it decreases. There is a gradual reduction in the spacing between atoms until there is almost no gap between them. A black hole is formed when a star approaches the Schwarzschild Radius.

A Black Hole’s Physical Properties

The mass and size of black holes are very variable. Stellar black holes, which are much smaller and develop directly from stars, may vary in mass from a few times the mass of the Sun to several thousands of times the mass of the Sun. There are just a few things in the universe larger than supermassive black holes. The mass of supermassive black holes may range from one million to over one billion times that of the Sun.

Despite their physical peculiarities, all black holes have an area known as the event horizon in common. An event horizon surrounds every black hole in the cosmos. At the event horizon, gravity is so powerful that light, the fastest known substance in the cosmos, cannot escape. The area of space beyond the event’s horizon is the epitome of mystery.

There is no way to see what happens beyond the event horizon since light cannot escape. Nothing beyond the horizon can affect what’s happening and vice versa. Scientists will have to devise new methods of determining what’s occurring on the event horizon if they want to discover what’s going on there. The enigma surrounding black holes will continue for the foreseeable future.

Black Hole Facts

1. Theoretically, if you went into a black hole, gravity would stretch everything out like spaghetti, but you wouldn’t die until you hit the singularity, according to this hypothesis. Nature magazine released a 2012 research that showed that quantum processes would lead the event horizon to operate like a wall of fire that would instantly kill you.

2. They don’t taste bad. The black hole is not a vacuum. Thus, sucking anything into it is not the same as sucking it into a vacuum. The opposite is true; things fall into them the same way they fall into the Earth or any other source of gravity.

3. Cygnus X-1 is the first object to be regarded as a black hole. Stephen Hawking and colleague scientist Kip Thorne made a wager in 1974 that the source of Cygnus X-1 was not a black hole. Hawking finally gave up the ghost in 1990.

4. Micro-black holes may have been created directly after the Big Bang if this theory is correct. Some areas may have been squeezed into small, dense black holes with masses less than a sun due to the rapid expansion of space.

5. If a star approaches a black hole too closely, it may be split apart.

6. An estimated 10 million-to-1-billion-star black holes, each about three times as massive as the Sun, exist in the Milky Way.

7. Science fiction writers and filmmakers continue to find endless inspiration in black holes. “Interstellar,” a film that relies significantly on Thorne’s research, is worth watching.” Researchers were able to learn more about how far away stars would seem when seen near a rapidly rotating black hole thanks to Thorne’s collaboration with the film’s visual effects crew.

Could Earth Be Destroyed by A Black Hole?

A black hole doesn’t roam the galaxy, randomly devouring planets. Like all other celestial bodies, they are subject to the effects of gravity. Earth cannot be affected by a black hole’s orbit that is too near to the solar system. The Earth would not be swallowed up by a black hole, all with a similar mass as the Sun. A black hole with the same mass as the Sun would have the same gravitational pull. Even if the black hole had no gravity, the planets would still revolve around it as they do today.