Thursday, June 1, 2023

How do black holes work?

Written By Mira Divan (Grade 4)

Firstly, what is a black hole? Well, it isn’t a time machine or a teleporting device (at least, that is what we think). In simple words, it is the outcome of a dying star. When a star dies, it collapses inwards forming an explosion, called a supernova. The supernova keeps collapsing until it forms a thing (for the lack of a better word) with no volume, but infinite density and infinite gravity. A black hole.

What is interesting is, a black hole has so much gravity, that nothing can escape it. Not even light. It is so strong because a billion tons of matter has been squished or compressed into a tiny space while the black hole was being formed. If you think of it, since light cannot escape black holes, we wouldn’t be able to see them!

In April 2017, that was proved wrong. At the age of 29, Katie Bouman developed the first-ever algorithm to see a black hole. And it was a success. The image was taken by eight different telescopes, and then pieced together bit by bit.

But a new question arose. What will happen if two black holes collided? Well, if they were the same size, they would have hit each other and turned into a bigger black hole. If not, the bigger black hole would have destroyed the smaller one. 

Speaking about sizes, black holes can be very large. The smallest black hole we know of is about 3.8 times the size of the sun. And that one is the smallest. Imagine the size of the biggest black hole. Well, the largest one we know is 66 times the sun. 

A black hole is also located in the centre of our galaxy, the milky way. Actually, there isn’t one black hole. There are thousands. The most well-known one is called Sagittarius A.

Well, that is all we know about black holes till now. Space is so vast, that all this information would be only one-billionth of the secrets of the black hole. We know very little about space and its wonders, and we are yet to discover more of it.

Featured Image Courtesy – NASA