Black Holes

The Truth About Black Holes

The Truth About Black Holes

Researchers are always looking into space for new data and new research suggests the universe is full of super-massive black holes. We already knew about black holes and when one is described as super-massive, it means it has a mass of up to billions times more than the size of the sun. Let’s look at the truth about black holes and what’s been discovered.

What Are Black Holes?

Black holes are collapsed stars with gravity strong enough to create an escape velocity exceeding the speed of light. Because researchers haven’t found anything yet that exceeds the speed of light, the belief is nothing will escape a black hole.

  • Event Horizon: If matter, including light, comes close to this area, it will become trapped forever. The event horizon is an imaginary sphere around the black hole. Objects near the event horizon will feel the intense gravitational pull, but can escape.
  • Accretion Disk: When matter is lingering near a black hole, it will begin spiraling inward and create an accretion disk. As the dust and particles of gas spin around the black hole, they collide with each other.
  • Jets of Gas: Surrounding the black hole, jets of hot gas will occasionally stream forth. These gas jets will create a flow that’s perpendicular to the accretion disk. Their length can be millions of light years long.

What Do Black Holes Look Like?

It’s not uncommon for many to believe black holes look like an actual hole. However, they’re invisible due to the fact that no light can escape from them. They were first referred to as invisible stars when astronomers were first hypothesizing their existence. The fact that they’re invisible also makes it difficult for them to be detected. Therefore, they must be detected by observing the gas surrounding them.

Black Holes Favour Hot Gas

New research theories also indicate that black holes favour hot gas. The gas flows around black holes in an orderly manner and eventually falls in. There are additional findings on top of that suggesting cold gas also feed black holes, but in a less orderly fashion. The “clumpier” method of gas falling into the black hole doesn’t make it any easier for us to detect them, though.

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Jamie is an amateur astronomer and every day space geek.