Ten things to know about Black Holes

Few things are as fascinating as black holes, and there are probably an equal amount of facts as there are myths and speculations. This list contains some of the things you should know.

The list

  • If you were Luke Skywalker being chased by Darth Vader, a good idea would be to hide. However hiding behind a black hole would be unwise as you would be visible from the other side.
    - The gravity from a black hole is so massive that it would bend the light reflected from you around the black hole and project your image right on the other side, distorted probably. But still.

  • Our sun won’t go out as a black hole, but if it did, the black hole would be around six kilometers in diameter.
    - In about five billion years our sun will begin to grow into a red giant scorching everything on Earth. At the very end of its life cycle it will shrink to roughly the same size as Earth and become a much cooler white dwarf star.

  • If the sun was being instantly replaced by a black hole the same mass as the sun, our orbit wouldn’t even be affected. In fact the Earth could have a stable orbit just 30 kilometers away.
    - Despite popular belief, a black hole doesn’t just eat everything within light-years of distance, you have to come much closer before you reach the point of no return.

  • The black hole in the center of our galaxy is weighing in at 4 million times the mass of our sun.
    - You think that is big?

  • Then think again, there are black holes with a mass billion times the mass of our sun.
    - A team of astronomers calculated the mass of the black hole in the center of galaxy M87 to have 6.6 billion times more mass than our sun, using the Frederick C. Gillett Gemini Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

  • Black holes can merge, forming even bigger black holes.
    - Which is what astronomers think is the reason behind those super massive black holes lurking out there.

  • The Stars around the black hole in the center of the galaxy M87, on average, orbits in a speed of nearly 500 km/s.
    - Compare this to our sun, orbiting the black hole in the center of Milky Way at roughly 220 km/s.

  • A black hole’s “surface” is called “event horizon” and is basically the “point of no return”.
    - From a distance though, the gravitational pull from a black hole is no different from any other object with the same mass.

  • No indications or evidence supports the myth that black holes are portals to other places or times.
    - However as an outside observer time would seem to pass slower for an object nearing the event horizon, and the light from it is stretched to longer and longer wavelengths.

  • Some Black Holes are formed when Chuck Norris divides by zero.

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