What happens when a black hole appears near Earth?


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If you look at the fascinating popular science series "Cosmos: Space and Time", you know what a "ship of the imagination" is – a spaceship that travels through the universe with the help of the imagination. The presenter of the series, astrophysicist Neil Degrass Tyson, is at the helm of this ship and shows a distant room to an inexperienced viewer. I really liked the idea of ​​the Ship of Imagination, so I hope that Dr. Tyson doesn't mind if I borrow them for this article. Let us imagine that we are on board the ship of the imagination and look at our planet from a distance. But suddenly a black hole appears out of nowhere. What will happen next?

This is the fantasy ship that the creators of the "Space: Space and Time" series have imagined.

A black hole is an area in space-time whose gravitational pull is so great that it absorbs all objects around it. The attraction of a black hole does not allow you to leave this area – the horizon of events – even objects that move at the speed of light.

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1 What do we know about black holes?
2 mass, angular momentum and electrical charge of a black hole
3 Cosmic Spaghetti
4 Bad news for the earth

What do we know about black holes?

Black holes not only excite and fascinate scientists. Interest in these mysterious objects will only grow in the future, especially after the discovery of gravitational waves and the first photo of a black hole. I would like to remind you that the existence of gravitational waves was predicted in Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, but its existence could not be proven until February 2016. In 2017, the scientists from the LIGO and VIRGO collaboration who made the discovery received the Nobel Prize in Physics.

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Gravitational waves are a curvature of the gravitational field that occurs due to the collision of massive objects, for example two supermassive black holes. The curvature of the gravitational field spreads like waves, which is why we call this event gravitational waves. Read more about this outstanding scientific discovery in the fascinating material by Ilya Hel.

Gravitational waves are highlighted in blue and rotating black holes are in the middle

Almost a year ago, on April 12, 2019, just on Astronautics Day, the world saw the first photo of a black hole, or rather its event horizon. In addition to the most amazing fact – scientists photographed a black hole – this discovery proved the existence of mysterious space monsters. The fact is that all these years black holes have been viewed as hypothetically existing objects. A few months later, NASA presented the first visualization of a simulated black hole that shows how the extreme gravitational forces generated by these massive objects distort the light around them and create the effect of a curved mirror. Despite the fact that we could see black holes and even simulate their behavior, we don't know what is beyond the event horizon. And it is unlikely that this will become known in the near future. The good news, however, is that science-armed science will help find an answer to these and other equally interesting questions.

Read more interesting articles about space objects and other secrets of the universe in our channel in Google News

Mass, angular momentum and electrical charge of a black hole

So we know that black holes occur as a result of supernova explosions – this is a phenomenon in which massive stars change their brightness dramatically and then decay. Some of these stars collapse instantly into black holes, others go through all stages of star development – from a supernova they can become neutron stars – the densest objects in the universe that collapse into black holes. But how do scientists measure the mass and properties of these space monsters?

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This is what the simulated black hole visualization of NASA looks like.

There are three properties of a black hole that can (in principle) be measured: mass, angular momentum (spin) and total electrical charge. An outside observer like you and I from the Imagination Ship side can only judge these three parameters, but all information about what is behind the event horizon and how the black hole is composed is unknown. Scientists call this the "sentence without hair" because all information about the source material (called hair) is hidden behind the event horizon. Based on all three parameters, the mass is perhaps the most significant: it is the mass of the black hole – and the enormous gravitational forces it creates – that damage nearby objects.

Space spaghetti

If the ship comes too close to the black hole of imagination, the ship and all of its passengers stretch out like spaghetti.

Imagine the bow of a ship looking directly at a black hole. Because it is physically closer to the black hole, it is more attracted to it than to the tail. Only the passengers of the spacecraft will be worse, simply because we have arms, legs and a head: since the arms are not in the middle of the body, they are attracted in a slightly different direction than the head. This causes the body parts that are closer to the black hole to be pulled inwards. The end result is not only an extension of the body, but also its thinning (compression) in the middle.

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And where would you go on a fantasy ship? Share your answer in the comments to this article as well as with the participants in our telegram chat

If a black hole suddenly appears next to our planet, we cannot

So our bodies or the ship of imagination itself will resemble spaghetti long before it reaches the center of the black hole. But what will happen to the planet if a black hole appears hypothetically out of nowhere near Earth?

Bad news for the earth

As you know, the laws of gravity apply equally throughout the universe. In the case of our planet, the gravitational effects are the same as in spaghettification: the side of the planet that is closer to the black hole attracts much more. In fact, the appearance of a black hole near our planet would mean the rapid death of life on Earth and on the planet itself. Agree, this is not the most pleasant view. However, since we do not know what is behind the black hole event horizon, an imaginary ship that falls into a black hole may move us to another part of the universe or another universe, depending on the hypothesis that you have best like. And you can see the 2014 film “Interstellar” because it is a pretty interesting hypothesis that it could encounter a lost spacewalker beyond the black hole event horizon.