Sunday, August 12, 2018

What is a Black Hole?

A black hole is a region of space-time exhibiting such strong gravitational effects that no particle or electromagnetic radiation, such as light, can escape from inside it. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass can deform space-time to form a black hole. The boundary of the region from which no escape is possible is called the event horizon.

Black holes of stellar mass are expected to form when very massive stars collapse at the end of their life cycle. After a black hole has formed, it can continue to grow by absorbing mass from its surroundings. By absorbing other stars and merging with other black holes, supermassive black holes of millions of solar masses may form. There is general consensus that supermassive black holes exist in the centers of most galaxies. At the same time, we may also have Black Holes about the size of an atom but with the mass of a very large mountain.

Despite its invisible interior, the presence of a black hole can be inferred through its interaction with other matter and with electromagnetic radiation such as visible light. When an object falls into a black hole, any information about the shape of the object or distribution of charge on it is evenly distributed along the horizon of the black hole, and is lost to outside observers.

At the center of a black hole, as described by general relativity, lies a gravitational singularity, a region where the spacetime curvature becomes infinite. For a non-rotating black hole, this region takes the shape of a single point and for a rotating black hole, it is smeared out to form a ring singularity that lies in the plane of rotation. In both cases, the singular region has zero volume. It can also be shown that the singular region contains all the mass of the black hole solution. The singular region can thus be thought of as having infinite density.

Black holes are extremely perplexing entities and the scientific community is continuously trying to explore its true nature and unravel its mysteries.

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