Lonely Spaceman - Hey, What's Up!

Helping beginner and amateur stargazers understand and enjoy the night sky

What is a Black Hole

The Lonely Spaceman will always try to explain things for beginners and amateur stargazers and budding astronomers can understand. This though becomes even more tricky when we talk about concepts such as Black Holes.

The photograph you see here is the first ever photograph taken of a Black Hole in 2019. Unfortunately, and sadly though, Albert Einstein never lived to see the photography evidence of his theory. Stephen Hawking another ambassador to the black hole theory who published many theories on the subject whilst expanding on Einstein’s ideas, sadly missed seeing the thought-provoking photo by just a few months.

The photo capture of a Black Hole was a very memorable day to all scientists and astronomers across the World. The long sought-after evidence that a theory such as a Black Hole, actually does exist. The first Black Hole was discovered way back 50 years ago in 1971 but it took this long for one to be captured.

 

So, what actually is a Black Hole?

OK, we’ve introduced the subject a little but now for the nitty gritty.

This question is best answered in two parts:

  • What creates a Black Hole?
  • What is a Black Hole’s characteristics and also what makes it so unique?

 

A Black Hole is created when a very big star (think of our Sun but thousands of times bigger) collapses. At this time two things happen. First the star explodes sending out plumes of star debris in to the blackness of space creating a dramatic light show that can be see for thousands of years – we have our very own evidence of an exploding star, a ‘Supernova’, in our night sky with the Crab Nebula – this explosion causes a second effect, which is the remaining part of the star collapses in to a tiny but incredibly dense point, with a strong gravitational force.

The force is so strong that when light gets near a Black Hole it cannot escape.

A Black Hole literally can travel around and devour planets, stars and anything else that can get in its way. A true space monster!

As Black Holes travel around devouring things, it grows. I guess it puts on weight like the rest of us and it’s this growth which can make the Black Hole bigger, stronger and more powerful.

We have a Black Hole at the center of the Milky Way. It’s big but don’t worry, it’s 10,000 light years away, and far enough from us to be able to do us any harm for the considerable future.

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