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July 30, 2013 | By:  Arvind Raju
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What Happens to Matter Inside a Black Hole?

Black holes- packets of space that contain a large amount of matter compacted into a small area- are one of the most amazing phenomena existent in our universe. Because the matter in a black hole is so dense, the force of gravity within the black hole becomes immensely strong, attracting everything within a certain radius and not even allowing light to escape. Traditionally, black holes represent a convergence of the two major pillars of modern physics: quantum mechanics and relativity. Thus, black holes have become a marvel of the greatest importance in the contemporary study of physics, intriguing physicists as famous as Stephen Hawking.

Well, one of the most fascinating and unsolved mysteries of the universe is what happens inside a black hole. It was a question that stumped scientists for decades after they initially hypothesized the existence of black holes, especially since there was really no way to study them. Just as light becomes trapped in a black hole, so too do X-Rays and Electromagnetic Radiation, the signals that modern telescopes detect to "see" the universe. However, after several decades, scientists discovered that they could locate black holes indirectly: rather than try to detect the black hole itself, scientists were able to utilize the X-ray signals that were being emitted by all the matter destroyed by the black hole's gravitational force. Since this discovery, we have been able to study black holes more thoroughly, tracking their activity and noting changes in their behavior.

So, what did physicists find? Basically, we have been able to quantify our universe down to the smallest scale, where the smallest fragment of reality is known as Quantum Foam (for an interactive view of this classification, check this. However, the force that black holes exert on matter is so powerful that it condenses any object in the vortex to a single point in the universe, referred to as a "singularity". This is where things get tricky -- a point is defined as an instant in the universe, defying all laws of time and reality. The rules of time and space (the space-time continuum, as many scientists put it) do not apply to single points. It's amazing, though nearly impossible to visualize. That is why all concepts regarding objects in black holes are mostly theoretical; it defies the laws that pertain to our reality. We have to imagine that anything in a black hole, even an entire planet, is compressed to a single point, which has no time, no space, and no reality. Mind-boggling to say the least!

So, what would happen if you fell into a black hole? Unfortunately, we can't give you a full answer yet...well, no one can. But, assuming you didn't immediately disintegrate from the force, you would most likely fall towards the center of the black hole at the fastest possible speed, the speed of light. Because everything around you would also be traveling at the speed of light, you would not be able to perceive the passage of time. It would seem as though you would float in space forever, until you finally reached the center and became part of the singularity. This dilation of time inside of the black hole (due to relativistic effects caused by the immense gravity and by your extreme speed) would also cause something else to happen: everything outside of the black hole would appear to be moving through time much more rapidly than you, allowing you to see the "future" of the space outside of the black hole. A few seconds to you would mean thousands of years to a person on Earth!

So, you can probably see why black holes have become so essential to the study of theoretical physics. All of the principles that physicists have elucidated in the past century, especially General and Special Relativity, are exemplified by black holes. Not only do they embody an entirely new area of intrigue, but they also serve as a guide for future scientists to conduct groundbreaking study. Maybe one day we will even be able to travel into the abyss itself. Until then, the black hole will be a mystery covered only by theoretical answers to theoretical questions.


1. Black Hole Encyclopedia. "What is a Black Hole?" Web. 18 May 2013

2. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Astrophysics. "Black Holes". Web. 21 June 2013

3. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Ask an Astrophysicist. "Black Hole Singularity". Web. 21 June 2013

4. Maynard F. Jordan Planetarium, University of Maine. "What Happens Inside a Black Hole?" 22 May 2013

5. Wolchover, N. Live Science. "What Would Happen if You Fell into a Black Hole?" (2012). Web. 28 June 2013

Image credits: Top: European Southern Observatory (via Wikimedia); Bottom: Northern Arizona University

August 15, 2013 | 04:47 AM
Posted By:  sapna thakur
Interesting and full of information, a nice blog. While reading it felt i am watching star terk.
August 06, 2013 | 10:44 PM
Posted By:  Lynn Wilbur
Seeing a blog from you two is no surprise. Very proud of your work and effort. Keep it up.
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