Imagine matter packed so densely that nothing can escape.
Not a moon, not a planet and not even light.
That’s what black holes are.
Below we have 7 facts about black holes — just a few tidbits about these fascinating objects.
Fact 1: You can’t directly see a black hole.
Because a black hole is indeed “black”, it’s impossible for us to sense the hole directly through our instruments.
The key is to look at the hole’s effectson the nearby environment, points out NASA.
Say a star happens to get too close to the black hole, for example.
The black hole naturally pulls on the star and rips it to shreds.
Fact 2: Look out! Our Milky Way likely has a black hole.
A natural next question is given how dangerous a black hole is, is Earth in any imminent danger of getting swallowed?
The answer is no, astronomers say, although there is probably a huge supermassive black hole lurking in the middle of our galaxy. Luckily, we’re nowhere near this monster.
Fact 3: Dying stars create stellar black holes.
Say you have a star that’s about 20 times more massive than the Sun.
When those monsters run out of fuel, gravity will overwhelm the natural pressure the star maintains to keep its shape stable.
In this process, gravity violently overwhelms and collapses the core and other layers are flung into space.
This is called a supernova that is known as a black hole.
Fact 4: Black holes come in a range of sizes.
There are at least three types of black holes.
Primordial black holes are the smallest kinds,
and range in size from one atom’s size to a mountain’s mass.
Stellar black holes, the most common type, are up to 20 times more massive than our own Sun and are likely sprinkled in the dozens within the Milky Way.
And then there are the gargantuan ones in the centers of galaxies, called “supermassive black holes.”
They’re each more than one million times more massive than the Sun.
Fact 5: The nearest black hole is likely not 1,600 light-years away.
An erroneous measurement of V4641 Sagitarii led to a slew of news reports a few years back saying that the nearest black hole to Earth is astoundingly close, just 1,600 light-years away.
Further research, however, shows that the black hole is likely further away than that.
Fact 6: Black holes are only dangerous if you get too close.
Like creatures behind a cage, it’s okay to observe a black hole if you stay away from its event horizon. This zone is the point of no return, when you’re too close for any hope of rescue.
But you can safely observe the black hole from outside of this arena.
By extension, this means it’s likely impossible for a black hole to swallow up everything in the Universe.
Fact 7: Black holes are used all the time in science fiction.
There are so many films and movies using black holes, for example, that it’s impossible to list them all.. Interstellar‘s journeys through the universe includes a close-up look at a black hole.
Black holes are also talked about in Battlestar: Galactica, Stargate: SG1and many, many other space shows.