What is the black hole's nature?

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Answered by: Logan, An Expert in the Astronomy and Space 101 Category
The black hole consumes all in its wake. It prevents any matter, including light, from escaping. Since light moves at 670,616,629 mph, or from the Sun to Earth in eight seconds, it is the fastest object known. Since holes subdue light, they are the most powerful forces in the entire universe. What creates such beings?

Stars are spheres of flame and fire that emit radiation and heat. This displaces gravity pressing down on the star, a cosmic tug of war. Stars burn hydrogen through most of their years. As the star ages, it depletes its stores of hydrogen and switches to helium, then carbon and oxygen. Mid-mass stars like our sun do not have enough mass to continue burning the gasses, becoming white dwarfs. Stars at least five times more massive than our sun continue burning their gasses. They stop when reaching iron, since iron cannot produce energy by atomic fusion. Their radiation stops. Gravity forces the star to implode and condense until it consumes all matter around it, creating a hole. How can holes consume matter around them? They cannot obey the laws of physics… can they?

Holes do obey all laws of physics. They represent the laws at their most dramatic moments; it is because they obey the laws that they exist. Take Einstein's theory of general relativity. He states that matter tells space-time how to curve, and curved space-time tells matter how to move. Now picture a multi-dimensional grid in space; whichever direction you look you see lines crossing. Now picture the thread of time, unbreakable, infinite into the past, and future. This is the space-time continuum, the fabric of time and existence. Celestial bodies such as our Earth and Sun displace and bend space-time- and therefore the universe- in their vicinity and force it to curve around them. Curved space-time is gravity. It bears its force on a celestial body to hold it together.

Holes are the ultimate disturbance to space-time. It swirls and twists space-time in vortex lines (lines representing twisting space-time) and sucks it into its depths. If space-time never reemerges from a hole, then time must stop at a hole. To understand this, we must understand the hole's structure.

The limit of how close something can orbit a hole before the hole consumes it is the event horizon. The horizon's size is proportional to the hole's mass. The center is a mystery, since it is impossible to study it. Scientists believe there is a point in the hole's center named the singularity. Gravity is impossibly extreme because holes curve space-time past its limits. It is here in the singularity that our laws fail us.

Because the event horizon is the "point of no return" when nearing a hole, it is also the point where time appears to stand still from an outsider's perspective. Space-time bends so much starting at the event horizon that any matter passing it will "freeze" and redden as the hole pulls its light towards the singularity. However, if an observer were to dive into a hole, time to them would continue normally since they are moving towards the singularity at the same speed as warped space-time.

Even though time moves at "normal speed" to this hypothetical diver, their perception of the universe would warp. Stars distort and bend. The side of the diver closest to the singularity would have a stronger gravitational pull, stretching the body like taffy as they plummet. Once reaching the singularity (sometimes before that in smaller, more dense holes), they lose all human characteristics and become part of the hole.

If a hole consumes all matter around it, then it is immortal… right? Surprisingly, no. Holes die when they evaporate and shrink over trillions of years. Though never documented in any known holes, light particles born and die instantaneously inside the hole. In the fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a second the particle lives, it has a minute chance of escape. Over time, as more particles flee the hole and it loses stability, it becomes volatile until finally emitting a violent gamma ray and releasing all its energy and matter back into the universe.

The black hole a fascination to scientists and observers. It consumes all near wake and is a dying star's remains. The hole obeys and breaks the laws of physics simultaneously. It stops time and lives for trillions of years before reversing all its consumption. Though humankind is just starting to make acquaintance with their nature, we have discovered a fascinating, awe-inspiring facet of the universe. Perhaps with more discoveries, we may find some secret humanity never thought possible.

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