Black holes are areas in space where gravity is so strong that not even the fastest object in the universe can escape from it, writes Newsweek. At the same time, experts point out that black holes absorb matter poorly and are terribly inefficient.
What is the probability that one day the earth will be sucked into a black hole? And if that happens, what then?
Experts believe that the chance that the earth will ever collide with a black hole before it is swallowed by the sun – which will happen in about five billion years – is practically zero.
“To begin with, outer space is called that for a reason,” says Professor Doug Gobielle of the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Physics. – Average density of luminous matter in the universe is on the order of one proton per cubic meter. In the galaxy and the solar system, the density is much higher, but still practically absent. “
“Objects that we consider to be” large “and” dense “are quite rare in the universe: these are planets, stars and their associated remnants – white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes, – explained Gobiel.
Although there are countless stars only in our galaxy, random encounters between them are extremely rare due to the enormous distance between objects, said Jonathan Zrake, associate professor of physics and astronomy at Clemson University.
“Apart from a super-advanced civilization with virtually unlimited resources and energy, which will deliberately” shoot up “a black hole in the solar system, such a collision is so unlikely that it is almost zero,” says Gobiel.
“We do not usually worry about stars passing through the solar system, so this can be extrapolated to other objects in the galaxy,” he said.
“Every now and then stars come close enough to knock out a few comets from the outer limits of the solar system, the so-called Oort cloud, as a result of their gravitational influence on the solar system. Surely the same thing will happen to black holes and other compact masses that wander the solar system, ”he said.
Should we be afraid of “near” black holes?
According to experts, even the nearest black holes to our solar system are too far away to affect us in any way.
For example, the V616 Monocerotis, which is considered one of the closest, more than 3,000 light-years.
“Even if a black hole swallows its twin star, its mass will not be enough for anything other than a few bursts of radiation,” Gobiel said. “At this distance from the earth, we will generally only notice it with the help of powerful instruments. And the impact on the earth will be completely zero.”
Black holes are divided into two main categories: stellar and supermassive (although recent research has shown that there is probably some middle class). Starry black holes are several times as massive as our sun. Supermassive black holes can have masses from a few million to billions of suns.
Star mass black holes like V616 Mon are the remnants of massive stars that died in cataclysmic cosmic explosions – also called supernovae. The nearest star that could theoretically form a black hole is Betelgeuse, the second brightest star in the constellation Orion.
Betelgeuse is nearing the end of its life and is likely to produce a supernova sometime in the next 10,000 years or so, according to Zreik. But it is also about 500 light-years from us, and even if it does turn into a black hole, it will have no effect on the earth.
How close must a black hole be to affect something?
“Although it will be difficult to miss a supermassive black hole or even a medium-sized black hole somewhere near the solar system, it is quite possible to miss a black hole with star mass at the edge of the solar system,” says Gobiel.
“But even a large black hole with stellar mass, say 30 solar masses, would need to be closer than Neptune (which is almost 30 times longer than from Earth to the Sun) to have any gravitational effect on Earth, and about Jupiter’s distance (about five times as much). as far as the earth to the sun) to pull the earth with a force approximately equal to the gravity of the sun, “he said.
Black holes are believed to be omnipotent cosmic vacuum cleaners that swallow everything in their path, but Gobiel says that is not the case at all.
“In general, black holes absorb matter terribly poorly,” he said. “The answer to the question of why black holes have not yet cooled the universe is that in most cases they are extremely inefficient and do not grow well.”
What happens if the soil is sucked into a black hole?
If a black hole somehow gets close to the earth (for example, closer than the moon’s orbit) and moves slowly enough, our planet will surely be torn apart by incredible gravity.
“Earth will lose its atmosphere and ocean, and molten metal will flow out of Earth’s mantle into space,” Zreik said.
Terrestrial fragments will fall into orbit around the black hole and evaporate to an ionized gas consisting of atoms or molecules that have lost an electron or, conversely, gained another. The gas forms a ring of material around the black hole, called an accretion disk, and most of it will be consumed within a few hours or days, Zreik said.
“The released energy will propel powerful currents of plasma into space – one of the four basic states of matter – and produce high-energy radiation. Astronomers from nearby planets will certainly notice a radiation,” he said.
But the chance that this scenario will come true is astronomically small. Something more likely, but still unlikely, is a scenario where a black hole comes close enough to somehow affect the earth, but not close enough to swallow our planet.
The biggest danger, at least for life on the planet, is the event where a black hole disrupts the Earth’s orbit so much that the climate changes or a huge amount of debris from the solar system (asteroids, comets and satellites) moves towards us with a high risk of collision, Zreik explains. .
“Life on earth will certainly survive, but humanity and most multicellular species on earth are unlikely to survive,” Gobiel concluded.