Thursday, January 1, 2009

Black Holes

Black Holes were the subject of my 7th grade science fair project. The high school science teacher who judged me was very impressed, even though I still didn't quite understand black holes myself. I can remember that presentation very well–go figure. My Dad inspired the topic as he was an avid reader of Omni Magazine and Scientific American and all of those "brainiac" publications of which were way over my head.

Black holes are the densest objects in the universe. Black holes are a region of space with a gravitational pull so powerful that not even light can escape them. Einstein's general theory of relativity defines them as mass added to a degenerate star that creates a sudden collapse and intense gravitational field of the star that will then close in on itself, forming a black hole. At the center of every galaxy there is thought to be a black hole that is one half of one percent of the size of the galaxy, thus being essential for galaxy formation. A Supermassive black hole can contain hundreds of thousands to billions of solar masses. A Supermassive black hole is at the center of the Milky Way in a region called Sagittarius A. It's radius is no more than 6.25 light-hours (light travels approximately 186,282 miles per second.) Intermediate-mass black holes, Stellar-mass black holes and Micro black holes are smaller in size respectively. Black holes are still not completely understood and there are many theories, all of which are fascinating.

Now you’re a little smarter, Girlfriend — And so am I.


  1. Love the info! What is a "degenerated star" and how is mass added to it?
    I've been thinking about E=MC(2) a lot lately and how Energy and Mass is interchangeable. Since we are Energy and Mass at the same time what is possible?

  2. A degenerate star is one that runs out of fuel and dies. If it shrinks further, becomes denser, adding mass (hydrogen, Carbon, Nitrogen and Oxygen burning to create helium), the equilibrium against gravitational collapse reaches it's breaking point, a black hole has formed. Wow! This topic is tough! But so fascinating.