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Black Holes: Are They a Threat?

Germantown, MD

I'm sure you’ve found yourself at least once wondering about space. The mysterious and exciting galaxy beyond us, and the many dangers. Learning about planets in elementary school, to units in middle and high school science classes provide space for imagination, curiosity, and fear. One of the most unsettling concepts is black holes.


Do black holes consume everything?

nasa, black hole, astronomy, space, blackhole, space technology
a black hole

As you may know, black holes can range from as small as an atom to the size of a million suns, normally created when a star collapses on itself. These areas contain extremely large amounts of gravity. The gravity pulls in very strongly. Because of this, there is a common misconception that black holes suck in everything in their path.

Black holes only pull in things that are relatively close to them. They have the same type of gravity as any star. For example, the Sun is a star. If the Sun was to be replaced by a black hole of the same mass, the planets in our solar system would revolve around it. It would not consume the planets. Rest assured, a black hole won't consume our planet anytime soon.


Will a black hole consume Earth?

nasa, black hole, astronomy, space, blackhole, space technology
Sagittarius A

A black hole named Sagittarius A is right in the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Sagittarius A is as big as four million suns. This causes fear and the possibility of Earth being sucked in… destroyed as we know it.


Thankfully, the Earth is much too far for this to be possible. Earth is 25,640 light years away from Sagittarius A, or 152 quadrillion miles away. That means you would have to go around the Earth 6 trillion times to reach Sagittarius A.

Because of this, there is very little to worry about black holes in our galaxy. With this knowledge, it is proven that there is a very low chance that earth would be consumed by any black hole.


How can we see black holes?

Black holes are invisible to our eyes, therefore given the name “black” holes. You may wonder how scientists know so much about black holes, even though light cannot escape from them. The answer is technology! Scientists at NASA use technology to look at stars or gas surrounding a suspected black hole. Stars surrounding black holes make wavelengths of light that are very high energy. The wavelengths are detectable through satellites and telescopes. Every day, technology to study black holes is advancing, giving us more knowledge.


Why do we study black holes?

nasa, black hole, astronomy, space, blackhole, space technology
Black Hole

By studying black holes, we can have a much greater understanding of time, space, and many other concepts. They have helped scientists expand their knowledge on Einstein's theory of relativity. Nevertheless, there is so much more to be revealed about these mysterious black holes, and many questions left unanswered.




Don't get sucked in! Learn more about STEM•E!




Citations:

Heather R. Smith, 2018, What is a Black Hole?, NASA, Accessed May 11 2023, <https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/nasa-knows/what-is-a-black-hole-k4.html> Q. Daniel Wang, 2013, Supermassive Black Hole Sagittarius A, NASA, Accessed May 11 2023, <https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/multimedia/black-hole-SagittariusA.html> Benjamin “Ben” Skuse, 2022, Could Earth be swallowed by a black hole?, BBC Sky at Night Magazine, Accessed May 11 2023 <https://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/space-science/earth-swallowed-by-black-hole>

Colin Stuart & Ben Skuse, 2022, What is a black hole?, BBC Sky at Night Magazine, Accessed May 11 2023, <https://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/space-science/black-hole/> Ota Lutz, 2022, Telescopes Get Extraordinary View Of Milky Way's Black Hole, NASA, Accessed May 11 2023, <https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/news/2022/5/12/telescopes-get-extraordinary-view-of-milky-ways-black-hole/ > Robeth Matthews, Is it possible for a planet to be in orbit around a black hole?, BBC Science Focus, Accessed June 9 2023, <https://www.sciencefocus.com/space/is-it-possible-for-a-planet-to-be-in-orbit-around-a-black-hole/> Louise Lerner, 2022, Black holes, explained, UChicago News, Accessed June 13 2023, < https://news.uchicago.edu/explainer/black-holes-explained >


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