Amidst the chaos of everyday life, it becomes easy to forget that we are but a tiny speck in an infinite universe, which is full of terrors that we cannot even begin to imagine. Black holes, or, places “in space where gravity pulls so much that even light can not get out,” are perhaps the most dangerous areas in the universe.
Because our closest known black hole is 1,600 light years from Earth, there is still plenty that scientists don’t know about black holes. And the most common question regarding them—”What would happen if you fell into a black hole?”—is still (somewhat) up for debate.
Here are some possible results of falling into a black hole.
The Spaghettification of the Body
If you plummeted into a black hole, your body would be ripped apart through “spaghettification.” But exactly how depends on what type of black hole you fell into.https://t.co/sG8G15kNw0— Astronomy Magazine (@AstronomyMag) May 19, 2023
Spaghettification is exactly what it sounds like: the process of one’s body being stretched and torn apart due to the immense force of gravity emanating from the black hole. This is the most common outcome of falling into a black hole.
If You Were to Survive Entering a Black Hole, Could It Transport You Somewhere Else?
The notion that black holes can transport you to other worlds has been a science fiction cliche for quite some time. However, there may be some truth to it.
Because black holes bend space-time, one who falls into a black hole could hypothetically come out the other end in a different galaxy and time period.
While the physics behind this phenomenon are extraordinarily complex, the most often used analogy to describe it is the bending of paper. Both ends of the paper represent a point in time-space. When bent, these points meet.
In this analogy, the bending represents the entering of a black hole.
How Do Scientists Know of the Existence of Black Holes If They Cannot Be Seen?
Black holes are just as their name implies: completely black, invisible within the context of space. However, scientists are aware of their existence via X-ray telescopes.
As it is pulled towards black holes, matter is heated millions of degrees, causing it to appear on X-ray telescopes.
Black Holes Can Get Smaller
One would think that in constantly sucking in matter, black holes would only increase in size. However, famed physicist Stephen Hawking theorized that they are slowly shrinking due to losing tiny amounts of energy that have since been dubbed “Hawking radiation.”
According to NASA, “Hawking radiation occurs because empty space, or the vacuum, is not really empty. It is actually a sea of particles continually popping into and out of existence. Hawking showed that if a pair of such particles is created near a black hole, there is a chance that one of them will be pulled into the black hole before it is destroyed.
“In this event, its partner will escape into space. The energy for this comes from the black hole, so the black hole slowly loses energy, and mass, by this process.”