Outer Space Tracings – WIF Space

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Scary Things

About Space

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Since the dawn of man (and woman), humankind has gazed longingly at the flickering stars high above in search of meaning, guidance, and inspiration. A gradual progression in science and technology has taught us much about our faraway skies — namely, that it’s cold, dark, and tantalizingly mysterious up there. It’s also scarier than Hell.

Nonetheless, it’s hard not to daydream about the outer limits or simply laugh at Captain Kirk and that space lizard in the worst fight scene ever filmed. Although many elements of the final frontier remain elusive, recent discoveries have revealed an array of terrifying threats that will keep even the bravest star warriors hiding under the covers with the lights on at night.

10. Meteor Showers

Imagine cruising along in your Honda or Chevy GUV (Galactic Utility Vehicle) blasting sound waves on the ol’ satellite when suddenly out of nowhere — BLAMMO — you’re blindsided by a huge boulder. Not only is your insurance rate going to skyrocket, but the nearest space side assistance is billions of miles away. Bummer.

Although this scenario may seem like a sci-fi nightmare, a similar occurrence actually occurred on planet earth in 2013 after a meteorite exploded over the Ural mountains in Russia. By the time the dust settled, over 400 people had been injured, underscoring the disturbing reality that cascading debris can strike without warning.

Fortunately, most large falling objects burn up while traveling through the earth’s atmosphere. Space travelers in the future, however, will have to dodge a spate of other potential hazards, including meteors, comets, and asteroids.

9. Black Holes

Q: What traps light, warps time, and operates on a colossal scale but yet can’t be seen? A: Black Holes. True to its enigmatic label, black holes have been mythically confounding ever since Albert Einstein first introduced the notion with his general theory of relativity in 1916.

Recently, astronomers took the first image ever of a black hole via the Event Horizon Telescope, a network of eight linked telescopes around the world. Although many questions still remain unanswered, black holes are characterized by the way they affect nearby debris, stars, and galaxies — and typically form out of the death of a large star called a supernova (more on that that later). Unlike a planet or star, a black hole doesn’t have a surface but rather occupies a region where matter has collapsed on itself. The amount of concentrated mass is such that nothing can escape its gravitational pull — not even light — and certainly not an astronaut who makes a disastrous wrong turn while lost in space.

Black holes exist in many different sizes, and similar to tornadoes, they tend to move around at high speeds, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Even a small one in our Solar System would be catastrophic, tossing planets out of orbit and ripping the sun to shreds. Although intrepid explorers will be tempted to visit these dark voids, nothing so far has ever survived a trip to a black hole.

8. Solar Flares

Our sun is a glorious, awe-inspiring star that provides warmth, light and the necessary temperature for precious life to exist. It’s also steadily expanding —and will someday completely destroy earth, torching our beloved planet like a marshmallow that’s been left too long around a campfire. Fortunately, that won’t happen for billions of years, but in the meantime, solar flares are capable of inflicting tremendous damage with little or no warning.

solar flare is a violent eruption that occurs when stored energy on the sun is suddenly released. This produces another one of those ridiculous hotter-than-Hell numbers, releasing a flash of radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum.

Scientists classify solar flares according to their brightness and in relation to x-ray wavelengths. The largest of categories, X-class flares, are large, disruptive events that can severely damage satellites, wipe out power grids, and basically relegate all “smart” technology to stupid pieces of crap.

7. Eridanus Supervoid

First of all, stop your juvenile snickering. No, this isn’t slang for an epic bowel movement or anything of the sordid kind. The Eridanus Supervoid is believed to be a massive empty section located in the Eridanus Constellation just south of Orion. However, what makes this discovery so intriguing is that it’s not only the largest structure ever observed in the Universe, but it’s missing about 10,000 galaxies — or around 20 percent less matter than other regions. As a result, the oddity could possibly contain an “alternative reality” within this ominous patch of sky.

In 2004, cosmologists at University of Hawaii observed a span stretching 1.8 billion light-years across and located about 3 billion light-years away (1 light year = 5.88 trillion miles). They identified a large Cold Spot on the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), a map of the radiation left over from the Big Bang, providing a critical tool to study the origin and development of the Universe at cosmic timescales.

The startling revelation presented a perplexing conundrum: the enormity of the cold spot doesn’t align with our current understanding of how the Universe evolved. While it’s not uncommon to find a few small warm and cold patches on the CMB, cold patches of this magnitude are a head-scratching anomaly. According to one report, it’s “too big to exist.”

6. Fermi’s Paradox

In 1942, an Italian-American physicist named Enrico Fermi led an all-star team of scientists to build the world’s first nuclear reactor. This monumental effort was part of the Manhattan Project, a top-secret U.S. government operation that produced the atomic bomb. Afterward, Fermi shifted his attention and extraordinary acumen on solving another complex subject: why haven’t we detected any other alien civilization despite the billions upon billions of other Earth-type planets that most likely exist?

The theory, which came to be known as “Fermi’s Paradox,” posits how the high probability of extraterrestrial life is contradictory to the lack of fact-based, demonstrable evidence supporting it. Naturally, this school of thought discounts the myriad of claims made by people who have allegedly witnessed UFOs or experienced alien encounters — not to mention phenomenons such as Crop Circles and Cargo Cult Theory.

While it’s tough to argue with a genius of Fermi’s stature (especially with our own limited, reptilian brains), we’re left wondering if it’s more frightening that we’re all alone or that hostile life forms are waiting to devour us like a Great White Shark munching seal snacks. Either way, it’s best to keep that aforementioned light on at night.

5. HyperNova

Many subjects dealing with the cosmos involve an impossible-to-fathom number. A hypernova is one of them. In this instance, the astronomical figure relates to the excessive amount of heat and energy generated from an explosion. But first, let’s review what is known about these fascinating wonders.

Novas are relatively small eruptions that occur in double star systems. When a white dwarf’s gravity pulls material away from a companion star, gas piles up and eventually becomes dense enough to ignite in a spark of nuclear fusion. Next, the Supernova, usually marks the death of a large star and the formation of a neutron star. The heat of a supernova can reach 120 million degrees — a temperature five times that of a nuclear blast.

Finally, a hypernova is an ultra-energetic supernova marking the birth of black holes and the release of intense gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), the most energetic form of light. As the mightiest of the Nova family, hypernovae are 5 to 50 times more energetic than a supernova. Additionally, for sake of completion, “Champagne Supernova“ is a song by the mega pop band Oasis, featuring lyrics of which scientists have yet to decipher the meaning…

4. We’re really, really, really small…

Although mother earth appears to be a gigantic sphere of bottomless oceans and endless roads, we’re relatively puny compared to other planets. How small? In terms of relative scale, Jupiter is 2.5 times larger than all the rest of the planets in the Solar System combined. But if you really want to feel minuscule, look no further than our sun — that big fiery 10,000-degree inferno 93 million miles away.

The Sun’s diameter is 109 times bigger than the rock we call home and is so large that 1,300,000 planet Earths could fit inside of it. While the luminous ball appears to be the largest star in the sky, that’s only because it’s the closest. The #1 star in the universe is the gargantuan UY Scuti, a Red Supergiant with a radius around 1,700 times larger than our sun.

But don’t despair, Earthlings. At least now you know how a ladybug feels, clinging to a thin blade of grass.

3. Rogue Planets

These wandering vagabonds (also known as nomad planets, unbound planets, orphan planets, starless planets, etc.) are objects with enough mass to qualify as planets but orbit a galactic center directly. The Universe, despite its vast expanse, consists of a jam-packed arena of activity that often resembles a well-choreographed dance. But a rogue planet disrupts this flow, stumbling recklessly to the beat of its own rhythmless hum while bumping into other cosmic bodies like a drunken ballerina.

Scientists believe rogue planets may have have been ejected from a previous planetary system or have never been gravitationally bound to another body such as a star. Furthermore, our galaxy (aka the Milky Way) alone may have billions of them.

Interestingly, some rogue planets feature a molten core, which combined with an insulated, cold exterior, could possess subterranean oceans that support life. A team of petrologists from Rice University recently theorized that a rogue planet the size of Mars possibly collided with earth 4.4 billion years ago, and could very well have planted the seeds of life while creating enough debris that later developed into our moon.

2. Space Junk

Ever since the start of the space race, man-made objects have been piling up in what has been politely termed “orbital debris.” But that’s being a little too kind. Let’s just call it what it really is: space junk. A wide range of discarded litter now includes thousands of metal fragments, cameras, spent rocket boosters, and even a complete 1958 U.S. satellite (Vanguard-1) that’s currently the oldest artificial hunk of metal still in orbit.

This overflowing galactic garbage, not unlike our polluted oceans, is rapidly nearing a critical juncture; the consequences could be detrimental for both astronauts and those below running for cover from the falling rubbish. There are currently over 1,700  satellites in operation, yet represents less than 10 percent of debris large enough to track from the ground. An obscene amount of smaller objects could also cause serious damage — and sadly, the number will only to continue to climb.

In just one single action from 2007, China destroyed a decommissioned weather satellite during one of its weapons tests, smashing the object into over 150,000 pieces. However, any attempts to clean up spiraling mess could present even more problems in terms of national security (surveillance equipment) and/or result in conflicts over territorial rights. In short, we’re doomed.

1. Zombie Stars

Just when you think we couldn’t be inundated any more movies, TV shows, and books about bloodsuckers and the undead, the science community has joined the fray with “Zombie Stars.”  Really? What’s next brainiacs, a Frankenplanet? Never mind.

As one might guess, a zombie star is something that won’t die. Ever. The monstrous explosion from a supernova typically glows brightly for a while before the dying star is obliterated into space dust. That is unless, for reasons that have yet to be determined, the star manages to avoid death. Adding to the horror show, the zombie star can become a vampire star by sucking fuel and energy from a nearby star to revive itself.

The most famous zombie (for scientists, anyway) is known as iPTF14hls. The star first appeared in 1954 and was thought to have died over a half century ago — but a discovery in 2014 revealed it’s still alive with no plans of retiring. According to the renowned astronomer, Iair Arcavi, a NASA Einstein Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and the Las Cumbres Observatory, the star’s inexplicable behavior is the “the biggest puzzle I’ve encountered.”

Yikes. If he’s stumped, folks, all we can do is lock the doors to the space station and hope for the best.


Outer Space Tracings –

WIF Space

Great Mischief in the Great Expanse – WIF Space

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Most

Terrifying Places

in

the Known Universe

Like Great Cthulhu, who lies dead and dreaming in the sunken city of R’lyeh, or the nuclear chaos–the blind idiot god–Azathoth, in HP Lovecraft’s stories and other cosmic horror stories, the universe is home to planets and celestial objects that defy our expectations and exhibit truly horrific environments–where humankind was surely never meant to voyage.

10. Trappist-1

Imagine that you stand on the surface of an alien world, where the sky burns dark and crimson, oceans of magma stretch from horizon to horizon and volcanoes constantly resurface the planet. A red globe of light rises slowly above the horizon, but unlike Earth’s star, it barely provides any light at all. Five other worlds appear as moons, forever drifting in the dark, threatening one another in their eternal celestial dance. Brilliant auroras fill the sky, burning and caressing the atmosphere, irradiating the surface and anything that dares to draw breath.

The Trappist-1 system may be the best hope for finding an Earth-like planet yet, with each of its seven planets being very Earth-like. Scientists think that many, if not all, have some sort of atmosphere and feature liquid water.

But—there’s always a but, isn’t there?—it may also be terribly inhospitable.

So far, evidence suggests that these worlds orbit their parent star peacefully. But, if our system is any indication, orbits are rarely static. Earth itself has at times exhibited a more elliptical orbit (which has been used as a possible explanation for our many ice ages).

A bigger threat to emerging life and habitability in the Trappist-1 system, however, may be a process called magnetic induction, causing many of the innermost worlds (even those in the habitable zone) to have oceans of flowing magma (like Io, which orbits Jupiter).

There is also the fact that super-cool dwarf stars like Trappist-1 are extremely active. They flare more than our star does, and this could prove to be particularly dangerous for the planets that orbit at such close proximity.

Trappist-1 is also a very dim star. Super cool dwarfs don’t emit much visible light, so processes like photosynthesis may be impossible. So, we can probably rule out rich vegetation.

9. Wasp-12b Exoplanet

A black shape transits across the surface of a star not unlike our own. It glows with an eerie iron red halo as its parent star devours it, the tidal forces squishing it and inflating the atmosphere until it’s nearly the size of Jupiter.

Welcome to WASP-12b. Deep in the Auriga constellation. Where the tidal forces of its dwarf star parent are so great, they stretch the planet into the shape of a football, and diamond is as abundant as limestone is on Earth. Despite how close the planet is to its star, it emits almost no light, making it one of the darkest exoplanets ever discovered.

But it won’t be around for long, because its host star is devouring it.

8. PSO J318.5-22

In the depths of interstellar space, a lone rogue burns on through the darkness. From within its raging dust clouds, there is no star in the ever-night sky. But, even with no star to warm its skies, somehow, its temperatures rage on into the 800s, and it rains rocky debris and pure iron.

PSO J318.5-22 is a rogue planet, a lonely, wandering jovian class world with no star to call its home. It exists some 80 light years away in the constellation capricornus. The planet is thought to be six times larger than Jupiter, and, surprisingly warm for a free-floating object.

The object is part of a group of stars which formed almost 12 million years ago. That’s relatively recent in cosmic terms. Scientists aren’t quite sure how objects like these end up floating all by their lonesome in the depths of interstellar space.

7. Mira: A Real Shooting Star

Imagine that you wake up in the middle of the night. There’s an odd glow visible from your bedroom window. You go outside and stare up at the night sky. You see a new, bright object in the night sky. At first, you think it’s a comet. But, soon realize that it’s not. It’s a star, shedding its material much like a comet.There’s just one problem, your world is in its way.

You’ve heard of so-called “shooting stars,” which you’ve probably also learned are nothing more than meteoroids burning up in our atmosphere. But what if we told you there were real shooting stars out in the blackness of space?

With a tail of cosmic gas and debris that stretches 13 light years, Mira is quite special. It’s actually part of a binary system, and its partner (Mira-B) feeds off of its stellar partner. A bow shock forms in front of the star, as it swallows up cosmic dust and gas and anything unlucky enough to get in its way.

So, what’s so terrifying about this? Imagine if our world were in its way.

6. Wandering Black Holes (Black Holes)

You’re looking through a telescope, focusing on Jupiter. You notice something warping the stars around the planet’s bright surface. Then, you see a large trail of gas and dust stretching from Jupiter to a dark spot, hurtling through space toward you.

The earth rumbles, and you realize that it’s all over for humanity.

Wandering black holes are terrifyingly common in our Milky Way Galaxy. Scientists have found two possible Jupiter-sized black holes in gas clouds using ALMA, a set of 66 telescopes spread throughout the Atacama Desert in Chile. And it’s thought there are close to 100,000,000 black holes in our galaxy alone.

But what would happen if such a black hole came close to us? Well, unfortunately, if a wandering black hole got anywhere near our star system, the results would be disastrous, throwing the orbits of every planet, even our Sun, into utter chaos. The most terrifying part? We wouldn’t see it coming until Jupiter and the other gas giants ended up getting their atmospheres gobbled up by the black hole’s immense gravity, creating an accretion disk.

5. Supermassive Electric Current

From the bright core of a spiral galaxy shoots a massive jet of glowing material. Getting any closer than 150,000 light years would mean certain death due to immense radiation and the strongest electric field in the universe.

Equalling about a trillion bolts of lightning, the cosmic jet resulting from the supermassive black hole at the core of galaxy 3C303 is the strongest electric current ever detected in the known universe. Scientists aren’t sure why the electric field is so powerful but theorize that it has something to do with the jets created by the supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s center.

Considering that the Milky Way is only estimated to be about 100,000 light years in diameter, that’s quite impressive, if not terrifying.

4. Hand of God

From the depths of space, the apparition of a ghostly hand reaching up to grab the corpse of a star that went supernova. It flashes with dangerous x rays, filling the pulsar cloud that makes up the hand every seven seconds.

Created by a pulsar wind nebula, the hand formation that the pulsar creates is a mystery scientists are still trying to solve. If our Earth were too close to a pulsar like this, and in the direct path of its gamma ray and X-ray jet, all life on Earth (except extremophiles in caves and near volcanic oceanic vents) would likely go extinct.

Pulsars like the one creating the Hand of God nebula are actually rapidly rotating neutron stars, which emit pulses of intense radio waves and electromagnetic radiation. It has been suggested that objects like these, which emit gamma ray radiation, if pointed directly at the Earth, could cause a mass extinction event.

3. The Boomerang Nebula

From within the hourglass nebula, you freeze almost instantly, drifting through space on a collision course with a dying star.

A proto-planetary nebula created by a dying red giant star 5,000 light years from Earth. It’s the coldest object in the known universe. The boomerang nebula’s average temperature is a minus 458 degrees Fahrenheit (or 1-degree Kelvin). For reference, the coldest place on Earth (located in Antarctica) registers minus 133.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

The team of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA)–located in the Atacama desert in northern Chile–suggest that the extremely low temperatures may be caused by the collision of a small companion star, plunging into the dying red giant’s surface. The rapid expansion of gas caused by the collision is likely what’s causing the extreme decrease in temperature.

2. RXJ1347

Assuming you had a ship that could get you to this galaxy cluster, it would likely melt within seconds of entering the hottest place in the known universe.

gas cloud surrounding a galaxy cluster in the constellation Virgo is the hottest place in the known universe. It’s thought that this massive celestial heat storm was produced by two galaxy clusters colliding, creating one of the most violent phenomena in the universe. Contained within a 450,000 light year wide area, the cloud shines like a spot light. What’s more terrifying is that the custer is swimming with X-rays.

Now imagine if Earth was contained in that cluster. How long do you think our planet would last?

1. Boötes Void (The Great Nothing)

Imagine that you’re falling through space. You try to orient yourself, but every which way you turn, all you see is darkness. Up is down, is right, is left. No matter where you look, there are no stars, no planets, nothing but pitch-black nothingness to inform your senses. Imagine now, that this is all you’ve ever know, from the dawn of your existence.

A true abyss from which nightmares are spawned.

Boötes Void is the largest void in the known universe. It’s nearly 330 million light-years in diameter, and its existence is somewhat baffling. Most of the universe appears to be sponge like, expanding uniformly, but the presence of such a void, where thousands of galaxies could (or should) easily fit, raises many questions about the origins of the universe.

Answers, such as TYPE 4 or 5 alien civilizations, capable of harnessing the light and energy of their galaxies, to dark energy or other phenomena, have been proposed as potential explanations for Boötes Void. Some even think that it may be the very epicenter of the Big Bang, and others think that its very existence refutes the big bang as a whole.

The fact stands, that Boötes Void is the largest thing ever discovered within the known universe. If the Earth were to be placed at its center, we wouldn’t have known that there were even other galaxies until the 1960s.


Great Mischief in the Great Expanse

– WIF Space

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 139

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 139

…Talk to me Tuesday continues, as Francine begins to reel in the illusive astronaut.

In the course of a 3-course cattle-country lunch, Roy lays out his vision, Francine’s upfront role as his Press Secretary. “I never was any good at suffering fools, so dealing with worldwide media is not my strong suit. I mean you can’t teach physics to a preschooler, can you?”

“I’m not so sure anymore, from what Gus was telling me, they already have the necessary education to go straight into the astronaut program.”

“Gus is also positive that Earth has been visited by beings from another planet and that they have been doing since before Jesus Christ was born.”

“B.C. meaning Before Cleopatra?”

“Right, and A.D. means After  Dinosaurs. God bless him for his imagination, but for all our science, we have yet to confirm anyone’s evidence on any alien incursion.” {He could be wrong about that, right?} “Getting back to my need for a media maven; we seem to be able to work extremely well together, you can put words in my mouth and then I can focus on the important things.”

“I thought you did a good job handling me and the other scoops. I had to force my way into your insulated world.”

“Insulated… good word, but I would describe me as “in a zone”, with all the chaos going on around me. That pre-launch stuff, they have made movies about, but the difference is, I had no script to follow…and I don’t like having to explain my decisions.”

“No one can blame you for appearing myopic. I think you require the visage of The Great and Powerful OZ, while you do your thing behind the curtain.”

“Well there you go; the Wizard of OZ needs another full complement of senses to help me out.”

“I’ll give you that OZ and Dorothy raises you mine,” she tosses tortilla chips onto the breakfast nook table like she is kicking in poker chips to the pot.

“I ‘call’,” he answers as he pretends to turn over, “2 pair… Kings and Jacks.”

“Three 10s and a pair of queens… full house, I win!”

“Yes you do,” he pushes the chips over, swallows hard and then out of the blue he ups the ante, “I am not sure this is the right time, but here goes nothing: As sure as a black hole devours light, Francine Bouchette, you have captured my heart.”

All this while they have been having their adult conversation in plain sight of their two tablemates, Deke and Gus McKinney, who do a fist bump, a high five and a pinky-link, having seen Francine’s hand reach across the table, a tear trickling
down her cheek.

Deke proclaims, “Is that the best you can come up with Uncle Roy? Black Hole, that’s so cornball.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 139


page 171 (End Chapter Six)

RT contents 7-26

Black Hole Fun Facts – WIF Space

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black hole

Fascinating Facts

About Black Holes

Black holes were first theorized by John Michell in 1783, and the theory was pushed forward in 1915 when Albert Einstein published his general theory of relativity, in which he theorized their formation. Their existence wasn’t confirmed until 1971. Since then, research has continued into these mysterious regions that are sprinkled throughout the known universe.

10. Three Types of Black Holes

stellar

The first type of black holes is called stellar black holes (pictured above) and they are the smallest of the trio. They are created when a star that is larger than our sun collapses and continues to fall in on itself. While stellar black holes are relatively small, they are incredibly dense. For example, three times the mass of the sun can be packed into the area that is the size of a city on Earth. It is believed that there are a few hundred million stellar black holes in our galaxy.

On the other end of the size spectrum are supermassive black holes. Researchers aren’t sure how they are spawned, but their radius is about the size of the sun and their masses are billions of times greater than the sun. It is believed that they are at the center of galaxies, including our own.

Finally, intermediate black holes are mid-sized black holes. It is believed they are formed when there is a chain reaction collision of stars that are in a cluster. Researchers weren’t even sure that these existed until one wasdiscovered in 2014.

9. What Do they Look Like?

blackhole

Black holes can’t be observed because nothing, not even light, can escape from their boundaries, known as the event horizon, because the gravity is so strong. What we could observe is gas when it falls into a black hole because it is heated up, which causes the gases to glow. If we had telescopes or satellites to see a black hole up close, it would look like a rotating disk with a black hole in the middle.

8. Colliding Black Holes

On September 14, 2015, twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors picked up a small chirp from space. It turns out that chirp was a collision 1.3 billion years ago between two black holes a billion light years away. The black holes were about 29 and 36 times the mass of our sun. Before colliding, they circled each other and then in a fifth of a second, they became one black hole with the mass of 62 of our suns. When they combined, some of the mass was converted to energy and the energy emitted was gravitational waves. Gravitational waves were first theorized by Einstein, and they are a disturbance in the cosmos that could cause space-time to stretch, jiggle, and collapse, which would produce ripples of gravity. The problem was that there was no way to detect these gravitational waves and physicists, including Einstein himself, were never really sure they existed.

The discovery has already been hailed as one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs of the past century and Stephen Hawking said it is a key scientific moment that could change how we look at the universe.

7. Time Slows Down Around it

If you’ve seen Interstellar, you’ll know what happens when you travel near a black hole; time slows down. What is incorrect about the film is that the time dilation would not be quite that extreme.

Time dilation is ultimately affected by gravity, the stronger the gravity, the stronger the time dilation. Also, time only slows down once you get near the black hole, once you pass the event horizon, time would stop.

6. What’s at the Center?

blackholecenter

It is believed that the very center of a black hole is a time space curvature called singularity. As you get closer to singularity, large amounts of matter are crushed and jammed into immensely small and dense space. In fact, in singularity, matter is crushed to the point where it doesn’t even have dimensions. Singularity also grows infinitely bigger the farther objects travel into it. But since the insides of black holes are impossible to observe, singularity is only a theory and some physicists even question if it exists at all.

5. Closest Black Holes

Since black holes are so hard to detect, we aren’t exactly sure where the closest one is. At first, researchers believed the closest one was at the center of the Milky Way, but currently it is believed that V616 Mon (A0620-00) in the Monoceros constellation, about 3,000 light years away is the closest black hole.

4. Energy Source

energy

At first, it was believed that black holes were just energy drains because once something crosses the event horizon, it never leaves. But in the 1970s,Stephen Hawking showed that black holes should also emit power around the event horizon through a radiation, known as Hawking Radiation, and it is produced by quantum fluctuations of empty space. The obvious extension is: would we ever be able to harness that power? Well, some physicists believe that if we overcame the physical problems it would be possible to get energy from a black hole.

In 1983, a team of physicists suggested that an energy collecting device could be dropped in close to the event horizon and then we could simply pull it back up. It would be similar to getting water from a well with a rope and bucket. Obviously, you’d need a very strong bucket and rope to avoid being sucked in by the event horizon. Another way to collect energy would be to stick in “strings” and the radiation would run up it, the way oil runs up a wick in a gas lamp.

3. Could We Create One?

It goes without saying that black holes can be dangerous, so we definitely wouldn’t want to make one on Earth, right? Well, it turns out that we can theoretically make microscopic ones that are harmless. In 2014, using Hawking Radiation, researchers came close to mimicking a black hole in a lab. But at the time of this writing, one has not been created.

2. Evaporate Over Time

In the prior entries we talked about Hawking Radiation, which is energy found at the boundaries of the black hole. What is interesting is that this radiation also causes black holes to evaporate over long periods of time.

Why they evaporate comes down to quantum theory which suggests that virtual particles pop in and out of existence all the time. When they pop into existence, a particle and an antiparticle combine and then they disappear again. But when the two particles pop into existence near the event horizon, they don’t cancel each other out. Instead, one falls into the black hole and the other goes off into space. Over time, the escaping particles cause the black hole to deteriorate. That means black holes die, just like everything else in the known universe. Except for Keith Richards, of course.

1. What Happens When You Fall In

fallintoblackhole

If you were to dive into a black hole that was the size of the Earth, your body would look like “toothpaste” coming out of a tube. Your body would be stretched out in what British astrophysicist, Sir Martin Rees, called “spaghettification.” Eventually, you would become a stream of subatomic particles that would swirl into the black hole. But, if you were to dive into a larger black hole, say one that is the size of our solar system, then your body may be able to hold its structural integrity.

If you survive that, you’ll see the curvature of space-time and you will be able to see everything that fell into the black hole before you and at the same time you’ll be able to see everything that will ever fall into the black hole. This means that you’ll be able to see the entire history of the universe, from the Big Bang to the end of time, all at once.

Black Hole Fun Facts

WIF Space2-001

– WIF Space