black hole

If you fell into a black hole, you would be frozen in spacetime forever

Black holes are cosmic demons: always lurking out there somewhere, but almost impossible to detect.

Black holes, first proposed by Albert Einstein and eventually discovered by Stephen Hawking, are so dense and gravitational that not even light can escape. They have long been a mystery to the scientific community, and only now are we beginning to understand exactly what they are and how they work in terms of physics.

According to astrophysicist and science communicator Dr. Becky Smethurst, black holes are neither black holes nor black holes.she is the author A Brief History of Black Holes: Why You Almost Everything About Them Wrong.

“They’re more like mountains of matter than holes,” she told Weekly newspaper“They have no other aspect to guide them somewhere. It’s really just that you take a star and then you crush it.”

Stock illustration of black hole. According to black hole expert Dr. Becky Smethurst, a person falling into a black hole would be spaghettiized, but to an outside observer, time would be frozen.
iStock/Getty Images Plus

“they are [also not] Black,” she said. “They’re one of the brightest objects in the entire universe. Not necessarily the black holes themselves, because they are prisons of light, and you can’t get any light out of them, but the area around them. “

“You have material that spirals inwards, it’s accelerated to enormous speeds, it heats up like iron is heated on a forge and starts to glow. Not only does it start glowing in optical light, it’s also X-ray light, ultraviolet light, and you Also get some radio emissions from it. So they light up like a Christmas tree,” Smethurst said.

Black holes have an event horizon, the point of no return for all matter and energy: once you pass through it, there is no escape from gravity. Beyond the event horizon is ultimately the singularity, the uncanny single point where the giant black hole resides.

If you somehow fall into a black hole, on the journey between these places, something called spaghettiization happens to your body.

“Spaghettiization essentially means that the gravity under your feet is more [at] Your head, as you get closer and closer to the black hole, you get stretched like spaghetti. It’s a pretty morbid picture. “

When someone falls into a black hole, what you experience and witness is very different from what a bystander would see safely away from the event horizon.

“[Approaching the event horizon], you will see the black hole getting bigger and bigger. Black holes create this strange twist of light that makes them appear larger than they appear,” explained Smethurst.

“When you fall beyond the event horizon, all the light of the universe enters your eyes for a brief moment. Then, we have no idea what you’re going to see – whether it’s going to be very bright there, whether it’s going to be Complete darkness, or if you’re going to see other forms of matter that we don’t know about. Because at the moment, with our understanding of the laws of physics, we don’t know what the horizon is beyond the event,” she said.

However, your friends watch you fall and don’t see that at all.

“Let’s say you have a little lighthouse on your spacecraft, it’s like a little lighthouse that flashes every 30 seconds. Because of gravity, the light signal from there actually takes longer and longer to flash between each flash. It’s basically like slowing down as the light gets closer and closer to the black hole, the light drops. So [the observer] You’ll never actually see you cross that event horizon. You freeze forever in space and time,” Smethurst said.

However, the time between crossing the event horizon and spaghetti may not be as short as you might expect. Depending on the size of the black hole, the distance between the event horizon and the singularity can be huge: TON 618, the largest black hole we’ve discovered so far, is more than 40 times wider than the distance from Neptune to the sun.

“It’s possible that someone fell into that black hole and traveled along this gravitational gradient and could spend a lifetime in relative safety. [inside the black hole]’ Smethurst said.

“But it’s interesting to see how your concept of time changes: Once you cross the event horizon, any direction in space is also future. There is no past because you can never leave.”

Correction, September 7, 2022 8:45AM ET: This article has been edited to correct the spelling of Stephen Hawking’s name.

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