As I’m sitting on the couch, the computer on my lap, thinking about what I’m gonna write for this prompt, the TV is on and random Chromecast images are being displayed. It showed a beautiful image of the Ring Nebula and it reminded me of an article I was reading about the supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*, in the center of our galaxy and how unpredictable it is.
The article is referring specifically to the flares of radiation they observed and how there are absolutely no patterns they could find so far. This is based on information gathered during the past 15 years from the Swift Observatory, an Earth-orbiting satellite dedicated to the detection of gamma-ray bursts. In the coming years, the team of astronomers will try to find out if the radiation flares are related to gaseous clouds or stars passing by the black hole.
I find it fascinating. And mysterious. I am very into astronomy (not astrology) and while everything about our universe mesmerizes me, black holes have a special place in my heart.
Think about it. You have something that is so massive that it collapses upon itself creating something so dense that it pulls (not sucks) everything around it. Nothing, not even light, scapes it (this is not 100% accurate since sub-atomic particles actually can scape the event horizon, but other than that, nothing scapes the event horizon of a black hole).
There’s a lot we don’t know about them, which is, by definition, still a mystery to us, like, what happens inside a black hole, for example, but I will list below a few things we do know about them in case you are curious:
There are 3 types of black holes known to us today:
- Primordial black holes which are the smallest ones and believed to be the size of an atom but with the mass of a big mountain. They most likely appeared right after the big bang.
- Stellar black holes, the most commom ones, they have the mass of about 20 suns and are approximately 16km in diameter and how the name suggests, they come from stars. Dying stars.
- Supermassive black holes are the largest ones (like the name suggests), have masses greater than 1 million suns and would fit inside a ball with a diameter about the size of the solar system. Evidence suggests that every large galaxy has a supermassive black hole in its center.
Astronomers estimate that the Milky Way has anywhere from 10 million to 1 billion stellar black holes.
The sun does not have enough mass to turn into a black hole, but if it did, it would not pull the planets into it. The planets would still orbit the black hole as they currently do around the sun (we would all die from the lack of sunlight, tho).
In 2019, astronomers using the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) captured an image of a black hole for the first time.
Black holes were first predicted by Einstein’s theory of relativity back in 1916
But their existence was not actually confirmed until the 60’s when x-ray astronomy became a thing. Cygnus X-1 was the first black hole discovered and it’s 10 times more massive than the Sun.
Black holes spin just like all astronomical objects.
(there’s a bunch more we know about it but since this is a blog post and not a scientific article I will spare you, dear reader, and won’t list everything here)