In 1916, Albert Einstein predicted the existence of black holes for the first time. The first physical black hole, however, was discovered years later in 1971. And the first ever image of a black hole was taken in 2019 when the Event Horizon Telescope discovered one in the centre of galaxy M87. But, can we ever visit this literal giant mass of nothingness, which is capable of eating up planets?
Now that astronomers have caught a glimpse of the black hole, a new way of research and new sets of questions have opened up, focusing primarily on one question – can a person enter the black hole?
Well, there is a ‘One Way Ticket’ to the Black Hole (Interstellar fans, get excited!).
Researchers have found that astronomers can enter the black hole, but it will be one hell of a ride with no scope of returning to our beautiful, brimming with life planet – earth.
For a person to enter a black hole to study it and gain the first-hand experience of the most mysterious and intriguing phenomena of the interstellar space, the black hole has to be studied as an isolated part of the supermassive the black hole.
How Many Kinds of Black Holes Are There?
The universe is home to many black holes, and there are three types of black holes depending on their size.
The first one is a Stellar black hole.
This black hole is formed when a large star collapses and compresses, creating a stellar black hole. These stars are relatively small but very dense with a diameter of more than three times the sun’s mass.
The second one is a Supermassive black hole.
These black holes are found in the galaxy’s centre and are a billion times larger than the sun. These are the sort of black holes that are in the centre of our Milky Way and are known as Sagittarius A* (pronounced as Sagittarius A- Star).
The third is the Intermediate black hole.
Researchers have recently revealed a possibility that midsize black holes exist. In 2014, they found something similar to a medium-size black hole in the arm of a spiral galaxy. These could probably be created with a cluster of stars colliding together. If several of these black holes fall in the same region, they could make a supermassive black hole.
Anatomy of a Black Hole, Explained
Black holes have layers, most important of which is the Event Horizon – the black holes’ boundary. When anything passes through the event horizon, it can never return. That’s why it is also called the ‘point of no return’. Even light cannot escape from the event horizon! The inner region of the black hole, known as the singularity, is where its mass is concentrated.
In a comparison done by Leo and Shanshan Rodriquez, Assistant Professors of Physics at Grinnell College, they found that it is not very wise to enter the stellar sized black holes event horizon has a radius of around 2 miles. Au contraire, the event- horizon of a supermassive black hole has a 7.3 million miles radius.
(Not So Fun) Fact
If someone falls into a stellar sized black hole, they would be much closer to the centre of the black hole where the gravitational pull is so strong that no amount of force will be able to pull them out.
Gravitational Force of Black Holes - Strongest Force in the Universe
The gravitational pull in black holes is so strong that if a person came close to its centre, they would be stretched out until they are nothing but a thin noodle (not even kidding). This process of stretching out is called spaghettification (again, not kidding).
Therefore, if a person does somehow manages to enter a supermassive black hole and reach the event horizon of that black hole, s/he will have only “some” time to look around as the event horizon in supermassive black holes is farther than the centre. But s/he will be pulled in eventually (talk about a sucker!).
This means that a person can pass through the event horizon without being stretched out or spaghettified and float past the black holes’ horizon if they don’t linger around the horizon for a long time.
Entering a Black Hole is Not as Easy as it Sounds
Well, the above mentioned isn’t the only factor that can allow astronauts to enter the black hole. Entering a black hole is not as easy as it sounds. You can not just choose one and approach it without considering some other factors first.
Black holes are surrounded by gas and dust and many other objects that a black hole pulls closer to it (because, gravity), and they appeared as ‘hotly disks of matter’ to us. These disks are known as accretion disks and are extremely hot and turbulent.
For a person to enter a black hole, the black hole entity will have to be isolated first. It would have to be free of the gas and everything that surrounds it.
Journey to a Black Hole is Still Light Years Away
Even if scientists develop the technology to “isolate a small black hole”, and astronauts could overcome all the risks mentioned earlier, those explorer astronauts would not be able to send back any data as it is virtually and scientifically impossible for even light to escape a black hole, let alone any form of a signal (and did we mention it is a one-way trip?).
Unless data signals and astronauts can attain a speed way over 3×108 m/s (faster than the speed of light), everything that our mortal astronaut will witness in a black hole will remain with her/him forever.