Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to fall into a black hole?
They’re the most mysterious and one of the least understood phenomena of the Universe, something countless sci-fi stories have explored.
But what would really happen if you fell into a black hole?
While the truth may not be as crazy as some people have suggested, that doesn’t make it any less fascinating.
What are Black holes?
Black Holes are regions in space where the gravitational pull is so great, that not even light is fast enough to escape, hence their name.
They can be a wide range of sizes, with some scientists suggesting they can be as tiny as an atom, or as large as 1 million of our suns.
The key thing with black holes is that they are very dense.
The ones that are the size of an atom, for example, contain the same mass as a large mountain.
With such a large amount of matter compressed into such a relatively small space, gravitational forces become extremely powerful.
There are three main types of black hole, each of which forms in a different way.
The tiny black holes are thought to have been formed during the early stages of the Universe when matter was hurtling in all directions.
Stellar Black Holes, on the other hand, are formed in the dying stages of a star.
In their final throes, they become supermassive, ejecting matter out into space, but some then collapse back in on themselves creating an extremely dense core.
Finally, supermassive black holes, the ones found at the center of every galaxy, are thought to be critical to their formation and are created during a galaxy’s birth.
How does a Blackhole work?
The best way to think of how a black hole works is to determine how much force an object requires to escape the gravity of an object.
This is called the terminal velocity and is a key calculation that rocket scientists on our own planet need to consider in order to ensure their creations can enter orbit, rather than falling back to earth.
Two things needed to calculate the escape velocity, the mass of the object you’re escaping, and the distance to the centre.
The escape velocity on earth is about 7 miles a second, or 33 times the speed of sound.
If the earth was half the diameter, though, this would be almost 10 miles a second.
Despite having the same mass, this second example would be denser and, so, have a greater gravitational pull.
If we continued to shrink the earth to a sphere just 9mm across, it would be extremely densely packed, and in this case the escape velocity would be around the speed of light.
Any smaller, and it would be greater than the speed of light which means that, as the speed of light is the fastest anything can travel, it’s impossible for anything to escape the gravitational pull, and even light would be pulled back down.
This is what happens in a black hole.
At the very centre is the singularity, an extremely dense core.
Around this is the point of no return, where it’s impossible to go beyond, and this is known as the Event Horizon.
It’s thought that the laws of physics break down in a singularity.
Any matter within the event horizon is pulled down into it, where it adds to its mass, and becomes increasingly smaller and theoretically infinite density.
So what would happen if you fell in?
Unfortunately for us, and any other matter in the universe, experiencing such an event would spell the end of our existence.
Once you do, you’ll be sucked down to the centre and be compressed to an incredibly small size.
Initially, you’d feel weightless, but as you got closer to the centre your body would begin to stretch out.
Say you were falling head first, you would be stretched to become increasingly tall, while being squished in at the sides.
You’d become a form of cosmic spaghetti, and become a stream of atoms heading towards the core.
It would be incredibly painful, but thankfully happen in a flash.
There’s another phenomenon that’s thought to occur called time dilation.
You would speed up, and time would slow down, which would mean that if you looked towards the singularity you’d see everything that has ever fallen into it, while if you look away you’ll see everything that ever will fall into it.
It would be an amazing sight to see, until you fall into the centre and are crushed.
If someone were watching the event from the outside, it would certainly be a bizarre scene to witness.
Because light cannot escape, they would see you approaching the event horizon, then get dimmer and dimmer until you vanished.
No matter in the universe can survive entering a black hole.
It would be a very surreal moment for a human, but you’d never be able to share your experience with anyone else.
Luckily, there aren’t any close to us so the chances of ever encountering one are remote.
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