One of the most unusual, curious and dangerous things in the universe is a black hole.
Scientists are continuing to study and learn about them, but thus far, they believe they are huge collections of mass that have gravities that are so strong that nothing is strong enough to escape them, including light.
Black holes come in different types with the most common being the stellar-mass and supermassive black holes.
Types of Black Holes
Stellar-mass black holes are born when huge stars explode. When the explosion is complete it leaves a black hole that has the mass of 2-3 suns.
Supermassive – It’s thought that every galaxy has a supermassive black hole in its center, including our Milky Way Galaxy. These huge black holes have a mass that is equal to millions of suns. Black holes have gravity that is so strong that it can bend light, distort time, and warp space.
Intermediate – The third type of black hole is the intermediate black hole. Due to a relationship between gravity and mass, most black holes are massive but cover a small area. They have an incredibly strong gravitational power and they appear “black” because even light can’t escape their pull.
Understanding Black Holes
To try to understand black holes, scientists have to observe the radiation that is emitted from them as gas and dust are drawn in.
The most difficult are the supermassive black holes because they have such a thick gas and dust layer surrounding them that they block the emissions. Scientists have defined three layers to black holes: the inner and outer event horizon and the singularity.
What is the event horizon
Occasionally, matter that is pulled toward black holes bounces off of the event horizon and is thrown out into space. These appear as brightly lit jets and can be seen from vast distances.
The event horizon is the boundary around the black hole’s “mouth” and it’s here that light is drawn in without being able to escape.
It’s believed that gravity is constant at the event horizon. Anything that passes the event horizon enters the inner region known as the singularity.
This is where things get really strange. It is a concentrated single point in space-time where the mass of the black hole exists.
Stellar black holes
Stellar black holes are created when a star has burned through all of its fuel and collapses, falling into itself.
Smaller stars around three times the mass of our Sun, usually create a white dwarf or neutron star. However, when the bigger stars collapse it will continue to compress itself, creating a black hole. These are small in size but very dense.
To give you a comparison it would be like compacting the mass of three times of our sun into an area of a city.
The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics believes that our Milky Way has a few hundred of the stellar black holes.
Supermassive black holes
Supermassive black holes are giants. They are millions and possibly billions as massive as the sun. These can consume stars, gas, dust, and even planets and the longer they “eat” the bigger they get.
Some supermassive black holes consume everything within its gravitational pull and when there is nothing left to eat they go dormant until material gets close enough again.
Some scientific theories for the creation of supermassive black holes include the possibility that they are born in the merger of thousands of tiny black holes as well as when a stellar cluster of stars all fall together.
Intermediate Black Holes
New research has shown that there are other types of black holes that are called “intermediate black holes” (IMBHs).
These are mid-sized and thought to be formed as a chain reaction to the collision of stars in a cluster. Astronomers located one of these black holes in 2014 in the arm of a spiral galaxy.
Facts about Black Holes
- The closer you get to a black hole, the slower time will run.
- Scientists first thought black holes existed in the 18th century.
- In 1964, scientists found the first black hole candidate: Cygnus X-1 in the Cygnus constellation.
- Black holes don’t give off any radiation. The radiation detected is due to heating the material that is near it.
- In 1916, Albert Einstein predicted the existence of black holes with his general theory of relativity.
- Up until 1967, there wasn’t a name for black holes. The term was created by John Wheeler, and American astronomer, with the first black hole discovery in 1971.
- What are the three types of black holes?
stellar, supermassive, and intermediate
- What type of black hole do scientists believe is at the center of every galaxy?
- What are the three layers of black holes?
the inner and outer event horizon and the singularity
- What is the power that gives black holes the ability to consume all objects in its path?
- Why are black holes black?
nothing can escape the gravity, not even light
- How do scientists study black holes?
by researching the radiation given on by the materials that enter or are bounced off
- Back to : Astronomy for Kids