Now scientists think you'd be 'roasted' in a black hole

April 13, 2005

Contrary to established scientific thinking, you'd be roasted and not "spaghettified" if you stumbled into a supermassive black hole. New research being presented at the Institute of Physics conference Physics 2005 in Warwick will take a new look at the diet of the universe's most intriguing object, black holes.
Black holes stand at the very edge of scientific theory. Most scientists believe they exist, although many of their theories break down under the extreme conditions within. But Professor Andrew Hamilton of the University of Colorado says he knows what you would find inside, and challenges the traditional idea that gravity would cause you death by "spaghettification".

Most people have heard of the event horizon of a black hole, as the point of no return. But astronomically realistic black holes are more complex and should have two horizons, an outer and an inner. In the bizarre physics of black holes, time and space are exchanged when you cross an event horizon, but at a second horizon they would switch back again. Travelling into a black hole, you would therefore pass through a strange region where space is falling inward faster than light, before finally entering a zone of normal space at the core. It's this core of normal space which Professor Hamilton has been working on.

A so-called singularity sits at the centre of the core, swallowing up matter. But according to Professor Hamilton, the strange laws of general relativity temper its appetite. If the singularity ate too quickly, it would become gravitationally repulsive, so instead, matter piles up in a hot, dense plasma filling the core of the black hole and siphoning gradually into the singularity.

Depending on the size of the black hole, this plasma could be the cause of a space traveller's demise. Most books will tell you that under the extreme gravitational conditions of a black hole, your feet would experience gravity more strongly than your head, and your body would be stretched out like spaghetti. For a small black hole with the mass of several suns, this should still be true. But for a supermassive black hole weighing millions or billions of suns, explains Professor Hamilton, the tidal forces which cause spaghettification are relatively weak. You would instead be roasted by the heat of the plasma.

Professor Andrew Hamilton is Professor of Astrophysics at the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, University of Colorado.

Source: Institute of Physics

Explore further: MaNGA data release includes detailed maps of thousands of nearby galaxies

Related Stories

The birds who seek out Goldilocks fires

January 29, 2019

As wildfires become more prevalent and more severe, these 'megafires' are not only deadly and destructive, they may also negatively affect wildlife species that depend on habitat that lies in their wake, according to new ...

Birth of massive black holes in the early universe revealed

January 23, 2019

The light released from around the first massive black holes in the universe is so intense that it is able to reach telescopes across the entire expanse of the universe. Incredibly, the light from the most distant black holes ...

Revealing the black hole at the heart of the galaxy

January 22, 2019

Including the powerful ALMA into an array of telescopes for the first time, astronomers have found that the emission from the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* at the center of the galaxy comes from a smaller region ...

The orderly chaos of black holes

January 14, 2019

During the formation of a black hole, a bright burst of very energetic light in the form of gamma rays is produced, these events are called gamma ray bursts. The physics behind this phenomenon includes many of the least understood ...

Recommended for you

After a reset, Сuriosity is operating normally

February 23, 2019

NASA's Curiosity rover is busy making new discoveries on Mars. The rover has been climbing Mount Sharp since 2014 and recently reached a clay region that may offer new clues about the ancient Martian environment's potential ...

Study: With Twitter, race of the messenger matters

February 23, 2019

When NFL player Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice, the ensuing debate took traditional and social media by storm. University of Kansas researchers have ...

Researchers engineer a tougher fiber

February 22, 2019

North Carolina State University researchers have developed a fiber that combines the elasticity of rubber with the strength of a metal, resulting in a tougher material that could be incorporated into soft robotics, packaging ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Mesafina
not rated yet Aug 18, 2009
that means you could survive the whole trip through the crazy awesomeness of the first event horizon before you reach the core... wouldn't that be a way to go!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.