Five theories about black holes that will blow your mind
Black holes are some of the most exciting and controversial objects in the universe.
They have captured the attention of the public for decades, thanks in part to the late Stephen Hawkingwho turned them from a hard-to-understand scientific theory to a source of mysterious wonder.
They have also infiltrated popular culture through science fiction magazines, Star Trek, and Hollywood blockbusters.
But what are the five most bizarre and fascinating theories about black holes that are so baffling that the mind is incomprehensible?
Here MailOnline is looking.
Mysterious: Black holes are some of the most exciting and controversial objects in the universe (file image)
1. They are surrounded by a “ring of fire”
In 2019 Astronomers take the first ever image of a black hole located in a distant galaxy.
Described by scientists as a “monster”, it is three million times the size of Earth.
The image shows a bright “ring of fire”, as the researchers described it, surrounding a perfectly round dark hole.
“It’s like looking at the gates of hell,” said Heino Falke of Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
When black holes gobble up matter that gets too close, they compress it into a superheated disk of glowing gas.
In an image of the giant black hole at the center of the nearby galaxy Messier 87 (M87), the lower part of the ring appears bright because the gases there rush toward Earth.
The black hole also refracts light around it, which creates a circular shadow.
For the first time in history, scientists have captured a remarkable image of the supermassive black hole at the heart of our Milky Way.
2. They have “hair”
In 2015, the late physicist Professor Stephen Hawking suggested that black holes were not “perpetual prisons” as many thought, adding that data could escape from the abyss.
A year later, he expanded on the theory by stating that the answer lies in the zero-energy particles, or “soft hairs,” that sit on the horizon of a black hole..
In 2015, Professor Stephen Hawking suggested that black holes were not “perpetual prisons” as many thought, adding that data could escape from the abyss. A year later, he expanded on the theory, stating that the answer lies in zero-energy particles, or “soft hairs,” that sit on the horizon of a black hole (file image).
This suggests that the particles at the event horizon, the boundary of a black hole, will be composed of photons and gravitons, which are subatomic packets of light and gravitational energy.
These very low-energy or even zero-energy quantum particles settled at the edge of a black hole can capture and store information received from particles falling into the black hole.
In effect, this means that although particles falling into a black hole may disappear, their information continues to linger on the edge of oblivion in this “soft hair” of quantum particles.
The theoretical physicist compared the return of information to a burned-out encyclopedia, where the information would technically not be lost, but would be incredibly difficult to decipher.
The hypothesis is unproven, but could help resolve a long-standing paradox about what happens to gas and dust that fall into a black hole.
3. They give off gas
The powerful gravitational grip of a black hole means that nothing can escape if it comes very close to the edge of the hole.
But many of these mysterious objects are actually surrounded by the accumulation of gas and dust that surrounds black holes, like water running down a drain.
According to a 2018 study, this build-up of material is a three-step process.
The powerful gravitational grip of a black hole means that nothing can escape if it comes very close to the edge of the hole. But many of these mysterious objects are actually surrounded by a collection of gas and dust that shoots straight into the air and strongly resembles fountains.
First, the cold gas forms a disk near the plane of rotation, heating up until the molecules are destroyed.
Some of these molecules are ejected above and below the disk and then fall down, forming a fountain-like structure.
Alternative observations also suggest that this movement creates arcuate rings surrounding internal columns of matter that shoot straight up into the air and strongly resemble fountains.
4. They are the source of dark energy.
Just last month, scientists from Imperial College London made an exciting report about black holes.
They spectacularly showed that objects may actually be the source of an unknown energy known as dark energy..
In fact, the Big Bang theory about the creation of our universe originally predicted that its expansion would slow down—or even begin to contract—due to gravitational pull.
Breakthrough: Scientists have found the first evidence that black holes are the source of dark energy. They studied galaxies and the supermassive black holes at their cores. Pictured is NGC 1316, a lenticular galaxy located about 60 million light-years away in the constellation Fornax.
But in 1998, astronomers were surprised to discover that the universe was not only expanding, but accelerating.
To explain this discovery, it has been suggested that “Dark Energy” is responsible for pushing things apart more than gravity.
This was due to a concept proposed by Einstein, but later rejected, of a “cosmological constant” that opposes gravity and keeps the universe from collapsing.
However, black holes present a problem – their extremely strong gravity is hard to resist, especially at their centers where everything seems to collapse in a phenomenon called a “singularity”.
To delve deeper into the problem, A team of 17 researchers from nine countries studied nine billion years of black hole evolution.
They observed ancient and dormant galaxies and found that black holes are gaining mass in a way that is consistent with the fact that they contain vacuum energy or dark energy.
In fact, the size of the universe at different times closely matches the mass of the supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies.
In other words, the amount of dark energy in the universe can be explained by the vacuum energy of a black hole, which means that black holes are the source of dark energy.
5. They can be a “back door” to other parts of the universe.
Deep inside a black hole lies a gravitational singularity where space-time curves towards infinity and any matter passing through it can survive.
Or so it has always been thought.
However, in A recent study by scientists has suggested that there may actually be an exit through a wormhole at the center of a black hole.which acts as a “back door”.
Deep inside a black hole lies a gravitational singularity where space-time curves towards infinity and any matter passing through it can survive (file image)
According to this theory, anything that passes through a black hole will be “spaghettized,” or stretched to its limit, but will return to its normal size when it reaches another region of the universe.
While it’s unlikely that a human would survive the process, the researchers say the matter inside the black hole won’t be lost forever, as previously thought, but will instead be ejected into another region of the universe.
And the researchers say there won’t be a need for “exotic” energy to create a wormhole, as Einstein’s theory of gravity suggests.
BLACK HOLES HAVE SO STRONG ATTRACTION THAT EVEN LIGHT CAN’T ESCAPE
Black holes are so dense and their gravitational pull so strong that no form of radiation can escape them, not even light.
They act as intense sources of gravity, gathering dust and gas around them. Their strong gravitational pull is thought to be what stars in galaxies revolve around.
How they form is still poorly understood. Astronomers think they may form when a large cloud of gas, 100,000 times the size of the Sun, collapses into a black hole.
Many of these black hole seeds then merge to form the much larger supermassive black holes that are at the center of every known massive galaxy.
Alternatively, the supermassive black hole seed could come from a giant star about 100 times the mass of the Sun, which eventually turns into a black hole after it runs out of fuel and collapses.
When these giant stars die, they also go “supernovae”, a huge explosion that ejects matter from the star’s outer layers into deep space.