What is true and what is not about black holes?

The first real photo of a black hole put the eyes of the whole world on these fascinating celestial objects. In the world of science, black holes have been studied first as mathematical hypothesis (and geometric) and later as a physical phenomenon. In the popular imagination, on the other hand, this phenomenon has been glimpsed as an object surrounded by mystery with which to give free rein to the imagination and, of course, to the Science fiction. But is everything we know about black holes true?

What is inside a black hole?

“Matter and unknowns”, ditch Carlos F. Sopuertaresearcher at Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC, ICE-CSIC), expert in the nature of black holes. On paper, these are nothing more than a ‘deformation’ of space-time in which we assume that a huge amount of dough and therefore generates a gravitational field of great magnitude.

“We know that in stellar black holes there is matter that has collapsed after the death of a massive star. In the case of supermassive black holes, it is already a little more difficult to venture hypotheses. There are even those who suggest that inside these I might have dark matter. This scenario, however, would be more in the field of speculation, since today we do not have any evidence to confirm this theory,” adds the expert.

What would happen if we approached a black hole?

“The first image that comes to mind, surely influenced by the world of science fiction, is the following: as we approach the center, the closest part of our body would be stretched until we became a spaghetti that would be absorbed little by little. little by little due to the gravitational force”, explains Sopuerta. “This idea, however, would only be valid for stellar black holesa body formed after the collapse of a star,” he continues.

The black hole expert explains the reason for this curious phenomenon. Black holes formed after the ‘death’ of a star are usually smaller and therefore their gravitational well is usually more curved. The supermassive black holesOn the other hand, being larger, they have a curve with a smaller angle. If we imagine both objects as a pit, for example, it would be easier to fall into the small, steep pit of the stellar hole than into the ‘valley’ of the supermassive hole.

If we were to get close to the just-photographed supermassive black hole, we would most likely we felt a strong pull that would drag us inside. But beware, this would only happen if we got too close to its center. “Black holes are not as ‘catastrophic’ as we might think. In fact, they only affect objects that are a certain distance away. This phenomenon is known as the ‘event horizon’, the limit beyond which a body could not escape from the gravitational pull of a black hole,” argues Sea Mezcuaresearcher at Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC, ICE-CSIC) expert in black holes.

Is it true that if we enter a black hole we can travel through time? And produce energy?

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“Black holes, perhaps because of their mysterious and fascinating nature, have given rise to innumerable speculations and legends. And, although some of them start from a possible theoretical basis, the truth is that for now it is only science fiction,” he clarifies. mix. “The possible travels in the time through black holes (or wormholes, in some cases) are a good example of how some of the mathematical hypotheses have been reinterpreted into something much bigger and more spectacular. But no, for now we cannot speak of these theories as something real, but only as speculation,” adds Sopuerta.

The use of these to obtain energy would also be ruled out. “It is clear that if we were to throw an object into a black hole, it would end up breaking up. What we do not believe is that this rotation process could be used in some way for energy. And, even if the calculations go as they should, I see it as very unlikely that it can be put into practice as a effective way to get energySopuerta argues.

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