Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

The Sciences

What Happens in a Black Hole?

Things are about to get weird.

By Korey HaynesFebruary 29, 2020 4:00 PM
black hole nebula - shutterstock
(Image: Elena11/Shutterstock.com)

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

The defining characteristic of a black hole is its incredible density. A black hole is a tremendous amount of matter crammed into a very small — in fact, zero — amount of space. The result is a powerful gravitational pull, from which not even light can escape — and, therefore, we have no information or insight as to what life is like inside.

As objects and material are drawn into a black hole, they’ll undergo a process evocatively called spaghettification. This is because gravity is so extreme and increasing so rapidly as you approach the black hole that your head and feet would experience drastically different gravitational environments. You would be physically stretched out, and your sense of time would slow to a crawl in the brief moments before you fell into the singularity, the zero-point of the black hole itself.

But that technically happens just outside the black hole.

Once you enter the singularity, the truth is that astronomers don’t know what happens. But physical forces dictate that you would be crunched down not just to cells or even atoms, but to a perfect sea of energy, devoid of any hint of the object you previously were. Your mass is added to the black hole’s, and you become the object of your own destruction.

Mathematically, it’s possible that black holes form wormholes, portals to other places in space-time or even other dimensions. But many scientists think that possibility exists only on paper, and that the real world is too messy and unstable to support wormholes.  

Read more:

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In