Universe / 7 min read / 25 August 2021
Over years we have been watching movies such as Interstellar, Guardians of the Galaxy, Lost in Space etc. which proliferate interest in one of the scariest yet wonderful blob of emptiness; SPACE. Of course, space is not just a blob. Just like we perceive bacteria on Earth, we are probably similar; minuscule when we take space as the reference point. From two trillion galaxies to confusion in time, we are never failed to be fascinated by its enigmas. One such enigma is the one and only black hole. Er- not one and only. Till now about ten million to a billion black holes have been estimated by scientists in our Milky Way itself and along with that, they come in different sizes and in different types. Cool right? In this article, black holes will be our protagonists.
To explain black holes, let’s take one example. Imagine you have 50 coins. Your mother provides you a pouch which can only carry 5 coins and because you don’t have the time to buy another pouch, you are compelled to use the one your mother gave you. You stuff 50 coins in a pouch which can only carry 5. Now the coins are more than the pouch’s capacity and they are heavy as well so they make the pouch sink below. That’s what black holes are; matter stuffed into a small space with gravity enough to trap light. Oh, and let’s not forget that black holes suck in anything close to them like vacuum cleaners. This process of demolition of a substance by suction (stretching and ripping) is called spaghettification.
Moving on to the formation of black holes, it’s a lot to digest. Stars are usually composed of hydrogen atoms which due to nuclear fusion, convert into helium in the core of the star. Energy is released during this fusion. This energy pushes against gravity in the form of radiation and this helps keep the star stable and intact. Continuous fusion helps the stars remain stable, but this is not the case with massive stars. Stars which are very large have the capability to fuse much more heavier elements and this keeps taking place until they reach iron. It goes something like this; once hydrogen is exhausted it is fused to form helium which is then fused to form carbon and finally reaches to iron. However, as much energy is produced during fusion of hydrogen into helium, enough energy is not produced during fusion forming iron. This ruins the balance as the radiation decreases and gravitational force remains the same. As the iron increases, radiation decreases and soon, the core of the star IMPLODES. It dies in a supernova explosion. Post explosion, either a neutron star is produced or if the star is humungous, the entire core of the star forms a black hole.
Lastly, black holes can be divided into four types: stellar, intermediate, supermassive, and miniature. Stellar mass blackholes are most common and they formulate from stars which are approximately 10 times massive than our Sun. Intermediate blackholes may form when either an old star implodes or when stars or blackholes collide. Supermassive blackholes, as the name suggests are the largest. Their mass is more than 1,000,000 Suns. There are some speculations here and there that these blackholes exist at the centre of most galaxies. Lastly, miniature blackholes are estimated to be the size of Mt. Everest and they were stated to be formed after The Big Bang. This makes the oldest type of black holes.
‘Black holes are where God divided by zero’ – Albert Einstein.
Stay curious and keep reading articles from Lazy Science Reader.
Cover by: By Event Horizon Telescope, uploader cropped and converted TIF to JPG - https://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1907a/' (image link) The highest-quality image (7416x4320 pixels, TIF, 16-bit, 180 Mb), ESO Article, ESO TIF, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77925953
Sliding feature images: