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No, Don't Black Everything Into Them




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Illustration of a black hole tearing apart and devouring a star. Contrary to most popular representations, the overwhelming majority of matter accreted by the black hole or otherwise brought into its Black holes are messy eaters, and are practically never members of the 'clean plate' club.

Dana Berry / NASA

There are no classes of object in our universe more extreme than black holes, with so much mass present in such a tiny volume of space, they create a region around them where the curvature of space is so strong that nothing & nbsp; – not even light & nbsp; – can escape from its gravity once a certain boundary is crossed, that boundary is known as the event horizon, and anything from outside the event horizon that crosses inside will never get out.

This has led to a picture that most of us have in our heads about black holes tha t's prevalent but incorrect: one where black holes suck all the matter from their event horizons into them. We think of black holes as cosmic vacuum cleaners, consuming everything that dares to approach their vicinity. Even though NASA itself has released videos illustrating this effect, it's a complete falsehood. Black holes don't suck, after all.

It's easy to see how you think black holes would suck everything into them. Gravity is an attractive force, and black holes are the greatest collection of mass in a small volume of space you can possibly achieve. They are the closest cosmic monstrosities found in the entire Universe. When a massive object gets close to a black hole, it's easy to intuit what you think should happen.

 

     

  1. a & nbsp; object approaches a black hole,
  2. the tidal forces tear it apart into streams,
  3. the black hole's gravity attraction all of the stream-like matter,
  4. and then swallows it all, leaving now trace behind

But this is perhaps the greatest cosmic misconception about black holes or all. While black holes do have event horizons, and while anything that crosses the event horizon can never get out, black holes aren't the great cosmic devourers we make them out to be.

A black hole is famous for absorbing matter and having an event horizon from which nothing can escape, and for cannibalizing its neighbors.

X-ray: NASA / CXC / UNH / D.Lin et al, Optical: CFHT, Illustration: NASA / CXC / M.Weiss

Don't think of a vacuum cleaner when you think of black holes. If you're alluded to in my Brain Bar talk in Hungary & nbsp; – to think of black holes as giant cosmic Cookie Monsters.

If you ' Cookie Monster is getting its hands on cookies, you'll know what I'm talking about. Sure, every cookie in the vicinity will find its way into the area near Cookie Monster's mouth. The cookies get funneled inside towards it. But the overwhelming majority of the cookie matter that approaches the mouth of Cookie Monster won't wind up getting devoured; instead, it gets spit out in all directions, having been accelerated by a variety of chaotic forces. If you had a child (or been one) since the 1970s, you might have seen it in action for yourself.

When a casual observer might think that Cookie Monster devours every last crumb of every cookie that dares to approach his vicinity, careful observer will note that practically no cookie particles wind up remaining in his mouth. He's an extremely messy eater who ejects practically every particle of matter that he attempts to devour, very similar to black holes in that regard.

Sesame Street / PBS

deeply, starting with planet Earth. How would you respond if you were asked the question, " does the Earth suck everything into it? "

Of course, the answer is pretty obviously ". " Earth simply has gravity that attracts things to it, distorting the fabric of space around it and altering the paths of the objects that pass nearby. If you want to hit the Earth, you will find it – hitting the atmosphere, oceans, or surface of our planet – they'll fall into (or onto) our world, but if not, they'll escape from our gravitational pull. It's a pretty straightforward exercise in both Newton's and Einstein's gravity to show that this is the case, and it agrees thoroughly with what we observe as spaceborne objects hitting or missing the earth.

Instead of an empty, blank, three- dimensional grid, putting a mass down to what would have been straight lines to instead become curved by a specific amount. In General Relativity, we treat space and time as continuous, but all forms of energy, including but not limited to mass, contribute to spacetime curvature. If we were to replace Earth with a denser version, up to and including a singularity, the spacetime deformation shown here would be identical; Only in the Earth itself would be a difference be notable.

Christopher Vitale of Networkologies and the Pratt Institute

Now, let's imagine the same exact puzzle, only this time, let's replace the real, physical planet Earth with a black hole That's exactly the same mass. Instead of taking up the volume of Earth, it would create an event horizon occupying a volume of space a little less than 2 cm in diameter.

Here's the thing. If you look at the fabric of spacetime, you will find that outside the volume that markets the boundary of Earth's atmosphere when we look at our planet as it is today, the curvature of space is identical if you replace Earth with a black hole or not. All the objects that would miss planet Earth will miss this black hole that is the same mass as planet Earth. There is no additional sucking force at all. In fact, many of the objects that would have hit Earth previously will now miss the black hole. Only the rare objects that cross the event horizon – a more 2 cm across (as opposed to ~ 12,700 km for the actual Earth) – will get swallowed.

Both inside and outside the event horizon, space flows like either a moving Walkway or waterfall, depending on how you want to visualize it. At the event horizon, even if you ran (or swam) at the speed of light, there would be overcoming the flow of spacetime, which drags you into the singularity at the center. Outside the event horizon, though, other forces (like electromagnetism) can often overcome the pull of gravity, causing even cases of escape.

Andrew Hamilton / JILA / University of Colorado

Apply to Earth-mass black holes, but all black holes in the Universe. A black hole that is the mass of the Sun will only be a few kilometers in diameter: smaller than any actual star, white dwarf, planet, or even neutron star in existence. The black hole at the center of the Milky Way, despite weighing in at 4 million Suns, will only be about 18 times the diameter of our Sun itself

When you consider how big space is actually, and how much mass black holes you have to begin to realize that event horizons are tiny. Yes, they have a lot of gravitational pull on the space in their vicinity, but that just causes the matter around them to accelerate rapidly. Believe it or not, that actually contributes to black holes devouring less than it would if only isolated, individual particles fall into it.

An illustration of an active black hole, one that accretes matter and accelerates a portion of the outwards in two perpendicular jets, is an outstanding descriptor of how quasars work. The matter that falls into a black hole, of any variety, will be responsible for additional growth in both mass and event horizon size for the black hole. Despite all the misconceptions out there, however, there is no 'sucking in' or external matter.

Mark A. Garlick

In the real universe, you see, it's not isolated particles that represent the majority of mass that interacts with a black hole. & nbsp; Instead, the two most common snacks for a black hole are either stars or gas clouds.

A typical gas cloud in space is much larger than our Solar System is, with many voltage multiple light years in size, while a star that approaches black hole will find itself spaghettified, or stretched into a long, thin beach aligned with the direction of the black hole. By the time either of these options reach the event horizon of the black hole itself, they are many, many times the size of the black hole's event horizon. They're also stretched in the direction approaching the black hole, compressed in the perpendicular direction, and heated, as particle-particle collisions can even cause the atoms inside to ionize and break into free electrons and nuclei.

This artist's impression depicts a sun-like star being torn apart at tidal disruption as it is near a black hole. F or black holes like the type at our galaxy's center, tidal forces close to the event horizon can be enormous, and sufficient to not only spaghettify the incident matter, but to cause it to accelerate to relativistic (near-light) speeds . & nbsp; Black holes that are feeding on matter have been observed to emit light across a wide variety of wavelengths, from long-wavelength radio light to ultra-energetic X-rays and everything in between .

ESO, ESA / Hubble, M. Kornmesser

Sure, if any particle falls into the black hole's event horizon, which of course will inevitably add to the black hole's mass, making it larger. But if a particle misses the event horizon itself and simply approaches near the black hole, it's going to experience a tremendous acceleration instead. & Nbsp; A charged particle in motion creates a magnetic field, and magnetic fields are spectacular to change the direction of every other charged particle around them

Particularly, these particles will heat up, accelerate, emit light (in the form of cyclotron or synchrotron radiation), and will produce bipolar jets perpendicular to the plane of the black hole's (or the accretion flows) ) rotation

The supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, Sagittarius A *, flares brightly in X-rays whenever matter is devoured. In longer wavelengths of light, from infrared to radio, we can see the individual stars in this innermost portion of the galaxy. On rare occasion, we could even (in principle) track a star being devoured, and then watch the radio emission that ensues.

X-ray: NASA / UMass / D.Wang et al., IR: NASA / STScI [19659003] Considering that we have only seen our first image of a black hole's event horizon in a few months ago, you might think these arguments are completely theoretical. Not so! & Nbsp; We actually have an incredible amount of observational evidence to support this picture.

  • Black holes within our own galaxy appear to turn on-and-off in fast, incredible bursts of high energy emission: microquasars. [19659007] The black hole at the center of the Milky Way appears to flare up on random occasions, emitting bursts of X-ray light due to passing, falling, accelerating mats.
  • Supermassive black holes at the centers of other galaxies – many of which are thousands of times the mass of our own supermassive black hole – can be active, emitting tremendous amounts of energy due to their acceleration and emission of matter and energy in this predictable fashion.

We can often find evidence of This in many different wavelengths of light, as well as visible signatures and jets in many instances.

There is a black hole at the center of this galaxy (M87) that is incredibly large: 6.5 billion solar masses. However, its physical extent is only about one light-day across (a few times the size of Pluto's orbit), meaning much of the matter that falls towards it gets accelerated and ejected, rather than devoured. The 5,000 light-year long jet shown here is a result of accelerated, ejected, light-emitting visible light.

ESA / Hubble and NASA

But whether it comes from asteroids, planets, stars, or hot or cold gas, Most of the incident matter doesn't go into feeding the black holes that attracted them in the first place. Instead, it is just like Cookie Monster eats a cookie, only a tiny fraction actually makes the boundary of the event horizon.

Due to the intense gravitational forces and the tremendous size mismatch between the relatively tiny black holes and the large clumps of matter that feeds them, the fixed majority of infalling matter finds itself spit back out in an intense, violent flurry. It's estimated that, contrary to the popular picture, upwards of 90% of infalling matter will never make it inside a black hole at all. Instead, it's spewed back into the outer regions of the galaxy, where it can fuel the formation of new stars and return to the interstellar medium once again.

A black hole feeding off or an accretion disk. It's friction, heating, and interplay of charged particles in motion creating electromagnetic forces that can funnel mass inside the event horizon. But at no point does a black hole exert a sucking force; just a standard, run-of-the-mill gravitational one

Mark Garlick (University of Warwick)

The fact of the matter is that black holes aren't sucking anything in; There is no force that a black hole exerts that a normal object (like a moon, planet, or star) doesn't have. In the end, it's all just gravity. The biggest difference is that black holes are denser than most objects, occupying a much smaller volume of space, and capable of being more than any other single object.

But matter is charged, accretion disks and flows are real, generate magnetic fields, and accelerate most of the incident matter away from the event horizon itself. If you have had a deal with a child who eats a quarter of their food while playing the rest on their faces, the table and the the floor, cheer up.

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Illustration of a black hole tearing apart and devouring a star. Contrary to most popular representations, the overwhelming Black holes are messy eaters, and are practically never members of the 'clean plate' club.

Dana Berry / NASA

There are no classes of object in our Universe, more extreme than black holes, with so much mass present in such a tiny volume of space, they create a region around them where the curvature of space is so strong that nothing – not even light – can escape from its gravity once a certain boundary is crossed – That boundary is known as the event horizon, and anything from outside the event horizon that crosses inside will never get out.

This has led to a picture that most of us have in our heads about black holes that prevalent but incorrect: one where black holes suck all the matter from outside their event horizons into them. We think of black holes as cosmic vacuum cleaners, consuming everything that dares to approach their vicinity. Even though NASA itself has released videos illustrating this effect, it's a complete falsehood. Black holes don't suck, after all.

It's easy to see how you'd think black holes would suck everything into them. Gravity is an attractive force, and black holes are the greatest collection of mass in a small volume of space you can possibly achieve. They are the closest cosmic monstrosities found in the entire Universe. When a massive object gets close to a black hole,

  • the tidal forces tear it apart into streams,
  • the black hole's gravity attracts all of the stream-like mats,
  • and then swallows it all, leaving no trace behind
  • But this is perhaps the greatest cosmic misconception about black holes or all. While black holes do have event horizons, and while anything that crosses the event horizon can never get out, black holes aren't the great cosmic devourers we make them out to be.

    A black hole is famous for absorbing matter and having an event horizon from which nothing can escape, and for cannibalizing its neighbors.

    X-ray: NASA / CXC / UNH / D.Lin et al, Optical: CFHT, Illustration: NASA / CXC / M.Weiss

    Don't think of a vacuum cleaner when you think of black holes. Instead, it's more accurate – and far more fun, if I talked to in my Brain Bar talk in Hungary – to think of black holes as giant cosmic Cookie Monsters.

    cookies, you'll know what I'm talking about. Sure, every cookie in the vicinity will find its way into the area near Cookie Monster's mouth. The cookies get funneled inside towards it. But the overwhelming majority of the cookie matter that approaches the mouth of Cookie Monster won't wind up getting devoured; instead, it gets spit out in all directions, having been accelerated by a variety of chaotic forces. If you had a child (or been one) since the 1970s, you probably saw it in action for yourself.

    When a casual observer might think that Cookie Monster devours every last crumb of every cookie that dares to approach his vicinity, careful observer will note that practically no cookie particles wind up remaining in his mouth. He's an extremely messy eater who ejects practically every particle of matter that he attempts to devour, very similar to black holes in that regard.

    Sesame Street / PBS

    deeply, starting with planet Earth. How would you respond if you were asked the question, "does the Earth suck everything into it?"

    Of course, the answer is pretty obviously "no." Earth simply has gravity that attracts things to it, distorting the fabric of space around it and altering the paths of the objects that pass nearby. If they happen to strike the Earth – hitting the atmosphere, oceans, or surface of our planet – they'll fall into (or onto) our world, but if not, they'll escape from our gravitational pull. It's a pretty straightforward exercise in both Newton's and Einstein's gravity to show that this is the case, and it agrees thoroughly with what we observe as spaceborne objects hitting or missing the earth.

    Instead of an empty, blank, three- dimensional grid, putting a mass down to what would have been straight lines to instead become curved by a specific amount. In General Relativity, we treat space and time as continuous, but all forms of energy, including but not limited to mass, contribute to spacetime curvature. If we were to replace Earth with a denser version, up to and including a singularity, the spacetime deformation shown here would be identical; Only in the Earth itself would be a difference be notable.

    Christopher Vitale of Networkologies and the Pratt Institute

    Now, let's imagine the same exact puzzle, only this time, let's replace the real, physical planet Earth with a black hole That's exactly the same mass. Instead of taking up the volume of Earth, it would create an event horizon occupying a volume of space a little less than 2 cm in diameter.

    Here's the thing. If you look at the fabric of spacetime, you will find that outside the volume that markets the boundary of Earth's atmosphere when we look at our planet as it is today, the curvature of space is identical if you replace Earth with a black hole or not. All the objects that would miss planet Earth will miss this black hole that is the same mass as planet Earth. There is no additional sucking force at all. In fact, many of the objects that would have hit Earth previously will now miss the black hole. Only the rare objects that cross the event horizon – a more 2 cm across (as opposed to ~ 12,700 km for the actual Earth) – will get swallowed.

    Both inside and outside the event horizon, space flows like either a moving walkway waterfall, depending on how you want to visualize it. At the event horizon, even if you ran (or swam) at the speed of light, there would be overcoming the flow of spacetime, which drags you into the singularity at the center. Outside the event horizon, though, other forces (like electromagnetism) can often overcome the pull of gravity, causing even cases of escape.

    Andrew Hamilton / JILA / University of Colorado

    Apply to Earth-mass black holes, but all black holes in the Universe. A black hole that is the mass of the Sun will only be a few kilometers in diameter: smaller than any actual star, white dwarf, planet, or even neutron star in existence. The black hole at the center of the Milky Way, despite weighing in at 4 million Suns, will only be about 18 times the diameter of our Sun itself

    When you consider how big space is actually, and how much mass black holes you have to begin to realize that event horizons are tiny. Yes, they have a lot of gravitational pull on the space in their vicinity, but that just causes the matter around them to accelerate rapidly. Believe it or not, that actually contributes to black holes devouring less than it would if only isolated, individual particles fall into it.

    An illustration of an active black hole, one that accretes mats and accelerates a portion of the outwards in two perpendicular jets, is an outstanding descriptor of how quasars work. The matter that falls into a black hole, of any variety, will be responsible for additional growth in both mass and event horizon size for the black hole. Despite all the misconceptions out there, however, there is no 'sucking in' or external matter.

    Mark A. Garlick

    In the real universe, you see, it's not isolated particles that represent the majority of mass that interacts with a black hole. Instead, the two most common snacks for a black hole are either stars or gas clouds.

    A typical gas cloud in space is much larger than our Solar System is, with many voltage multiple light years in size, while a star that approaches a black hole will find itself spaghettified, or stretched into a long, thin beach aligned with the direction of the black hole. By the time either of these options reach the event horizon of the black hole itself, they are many, many times the size of the black hole's event horizon. They're also stretched in the direction approaching the black hole, compressed in the perpendicular direction, and heated, as particle-particle collisions can even cause the atoms inside to ionize and break into free electrons and nuclei.

    This artist's impression depicts a sun-like star being torn apart at tidal disruption as it is near a black hole. F or black holes like the type at our galaxy's center, tidal forces close to the event horizon can be enormous, and sufficient to not only spaghettify the incident matter, but to cause it to accelerate to relativistic (near-light) speeds . Black holes that are fed on matter have been observed to emit light across a wide variety of wavelengths, from long-wavelength radio light to ultra-energetic X-rays and everything in between .

    ESO, ESA / Hubble, M. Kornmesser

    Sure, if any particle falls into the black hole's event horizon, which of course will inevitably add to the black hole's mass, making it larger. But if a particle misses the event horizon itself and simply approaches near the black hole, it's going to experience a tremendous acceleration instead. A charged particle in motion creates a magnetic field, and magnetic fields are spectacular at changing the direction of every other charged particle around them.

    Particularly, these particles will heat up, accelerate, emit light (in the form of cyclotron or synchrotron radiation), and will produce bipolar jets perpendicular to the plane of the black hole's (or the accretion flow) rotation.

    The supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, Sagittarius A *, flares brightly in X-rays whenever Matte is devoured. In longer wavelengths of light, from infrared to radio, we can see the individual stars in this innermost portion of the galaxy. On rare occasion, we could even (in principle) track a star being devoured, and then watch the radio emission that ensues.

    X-ray: NASA / UMass / D.Wang et al., IR: NASA / STScI [19659003] Considering that we have only seen our first image of a black hole's event horizon in a few months ago, you might think these arguments are completely theoretical. Not so! We have an incredible amount of observational evidence to support this picture.

    • Black holes within our own galaxy appear to turn on and off in fast, incredible bursts of high energy emission: microquasars.
    • The black hole at The center of the Milky Way appears to flare up on random occasions, emitting bursts of X-ray light due to passing, falling, accelerating mats
    • Supermassive black holes at the centers of other galaxies – many of which are thousands of times the mass of our own supermassive black hole – can be active, emitting tremendous amounts of energy due to their acceleration and emission of matter and energy in this predictable fashion.

    We can often find evidence of this in many different wavelengths of light , including visible signatures and jets in many instances.

    There is a black hole at the center of this galaxy (M87) that is incredibly large: 6.5 billion solar masses. However, its physical extent is only about one light-day across (a few times the size of Pluto's orbit), meaning much of the matter that falls towards it gets accelerated and ejected, rather than devoured. The 5,000 light-year long jet shown here is a result of accelerated, ejected, light-emitting visible light.

    ESA / Hubble and NASA

    But whether it comes from asteroids, planets, stars, or hot or cold gas, Most of the incident matter doesn't go into feeding the black holes that attracted them in the first place. Instead, it is just like Cookie Monster eats a cookie, only a tiny fraction actually makes the boundary of the event horizon.

    Due to the intense gravitational forces and the tremendous size mismatch between the relatively tiny black holes and the large clumps of matter that feeds them, the fixed majority of infalling matter finds itself spit back out in an intense, violent flurry. It's estimated that, contrary to the popular picture, upwards of 90% of infalling matter will never make it inside a black hole at all. Instead, it's spewed back into the outer regions of the galaxy, where it can fuel the formation of new stars and return to the interstellar medium once again.

    A black hole feeding off or an accretion disk. It's friction, heating, and interplay of charged particles in motion creating electromagnetic forces that can funnel mass inside the event horizon. But at no point does a black hole exert a sucking force; just a standard, run-of-the-mill gravitational one

    Mark Garlick (University of Warwick)

    The fact of the matter is that black holes aren't sucking anything in; There is no force that a black hole exerts that a normal object (like a moon, planet, or star) doesn't have. In the end, it's all just gravity. The biggest difference is that black holes are denser than most objects, occupying a much smaller volume of space, and capable of being more than any other single object.

    But matter is charged, accretion disks and flows are real, generate magnetic fields, and accelerate most of the incident matter away from the event horizon itself. If you had a deal with a young child who eats a quarter of their food while playing the rest on their faces, the table and the floor, cheer up. You can comfort yourself with this knowledge: at least they're doing much better than a black hole.


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