Friday, October 17, 2008

Black Hole Facts

by Roger Smith

If you are into science, astronomy or even science fiction, you probably are amazed at the phenomenon called black holes. Black holes by their very name convey mystery and intrigue and while man has theorized about the existence of black holes since the late 1700's, we are still a long way off to knowing precisely what black holes are and how they behave today.

What is a Black Hole? One of the questions most people have about black holes is exactly what they are. Black holes are theorized to be areas of space in which the gravitational field is so strong and powerful that nothing can escape and break passed its grasp. In fact, black holes show up as completely void areas of space, because not even light can escape the strong gravitational forces. It is believed that a black hole is caused by a large star imploding onto itself creating tremendous density and thus incredibly strong gravitation forces.

The Life of a Black Hole Black holes as stated above are caused by a large star- much larger than our own sun imploding. These large stars run out of fuel which is necessary for nuclear reaction. Unfortunately, as the star runs out of fuel, the effect of normally pushing energy out is outweighed by its own gravity which continues to grow exponentially until the star incredibly crushes itself. It crushes itself to such a degree that its mass becomes super dense creating incredible forces of gravity that do not let anything escape its force. It should be noted that a black hole does not last for ever, while it does not allow light to escape, x-ray radiation is emitted and eventually black holes become smaller and smaller till eventually they disappear.

Where are Black Holes Located? One of the most noticeable aspects of black holes is that they usually can be easily located due to the fact that they are completely void areas of space. Black holes have been located throughout our universe in several galaxies. It was theorized that there was even a black hole in our galaxy- the Milky Way, however for a long period of time the evidence was not complete. Recently however, a black hole was discovered in our own galaxy- actually in the center turning many astronomers' theories on their heads.

For more information regarding black holes, the Smithsonian Magazine has a fascinating article on the subject. To read it, please visit our main website.

About the Author Smithsonian magazine is a monthly magazine created for modern, well-rounded individuals with diverse interests. It chronicles the arts, history, sciences and popular culture of the times. Each month, expect articles from the Smithsonian Institution's award-winning, monthly general interest magazine, plus exclusive Web articles, videos, blogs, photographs and more.

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