Possibly one of the most asked questions I get is “What is a Black Hole”, and with my most popular post being “How to Destroy the Universe“, I figured I should start off our new category with a bang 😉
What a horrible pun.. I’m so sorry..
On a long enough timeline, everything dies – even the Universe itself will eventually die, in what most believe will be “heat death”, meaning all the energy in the Universe will disperse and everything will be uniform. No light, no stars, nothing, just.. blackness. Let’s rewind the clock of a few trillion years, and figure out what happens when some stars die.
The long and short of it is, when some stars die by blowing up (drama queens..), the core is left behind. That core is so dense that it collapses in on itself and forms a singularity where gravity is so strong, not even light itself can escape. There’s a “finishing line” that every singularity has, called the Event Horizon, which changes based on the relative object’s mass that’s approaching it, and if that object crosses this line, it will never be able to come back.
Black Holes are not the cosmos’ vacuum cleaners, and in fact, if our Sun could become a black hole (note: it won’t, it’s not massive enough), aside from heat death on Earth, we would still orbit it as we do now. We wouldn’t get sucked into it, nor would any of the planets (yes, even Mercury). If The Sun could go all black hole on us, it would be roughly 3km across, and the Earth would need to be less than 20km away from it to get sucked into it. Since we’re 93 Million KM away from The Sun now, we’d need to get some pretty crazy rockets to move us that close.