What would it be like to fall into a black hole?

What Would It Be Like To Fall Into A Black Hole?
This artist’s impression shows the surroundings of the supermassive black hole at the heart of the active galaxy NGC 3783 in the southern constellation of Centaurus (The Centaur). Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Let's say you decided to ignore some of my previous advice. You've just purchased yourself a space dragon from the Market on the Centauri Ringworld, strapped on your favorite chainmail codpiece and sonic sword and now you're going ride head first into the nearest black hole.

We know it won't take you to another world or galaxy, but what would you experience and see on your way to your inevitable demise? And what would the rest of the Universe see as this was happening, and would they point and say "eewwwwww"?

If you were falling toward a black hole, most of the time you would simply feel weightless, just as if you were playing Bowie songs and floating in a most peculiar way in the International Space Station. The gravity of a black hole is just like the gravity of any other large mass, as long as you don't get too close. But, as we've agreed, you're ignoring my advice and flying dragon first into this physics nightmare. As you get closer, the on various parts of your and your dragon's body would be different. Technically this is always true, but you wouldn't notice it… at least at first.

Suppose you were falling feet first toward a black hole. As you got closer, your feet would feel a stronger force than your head, for example. These differences in forces are called tidal forces. Because of the tidal forces it would feel as if you are being stretched head to toe, while your sides would feel like they are being pushed inward. Eventually the tidal forces would become so strong that they would rip you apart. This effect of tidal stretching is sometimes boringly referred to as spaghettification.

I've made up some other names for it, such as My Own Private String Cheese Incident, "the soft-serve effect" and "AAAHHHHH AHHHH MY LEGS MY LEGS!!!".

Let’s say you happened to fall into the nearest black hole? What would you experience and see? And what would the rest of the Universe see as this was happening?

So, let's summarize. You wouldn't survive falling toward a black hole because you wouldn't listen. Why won't you ever listen?

A friend watching you fall toward a black hole would never see you reach the black hole. As you fall towards it, gravity would cause any light coming from you to be redshifted. So as you approached the black hole you would appear more and more reddish, and your image would appear dimmer and dimmer. Your friend would see you redden and dim as you approach, but never quite reach, the of the black hole. If they could still see you past this point, there would be additional red from the inside of you clouding up the view.

Hypothetically, if you could survive crossing the event horizon of a black hole, what

would you see then? Contrary to popular belief, you would not see the entire future of the universe flash before you.

What Would It Be Like To Fall Into A Black Hole?
Artist’s conception of the event horizon of a black hole. Credit: Victor de Schwanberg/Science Photo Library

What you would see is the darkness of the black hole fill your view and as you approached the event horizon you would see stars and galaxies on the edge of your view being gravitationally lensed by the black hole. The sky would simply appear more and more black until you reach the event horizon.

Many people think that it is at the event horizon where you would be ripped apart, and at the event horizon all sorts of strange things occur. Unfortunately, this goes along with those who suspect are actually some sort of portal. For a solar , the tidal forces near the event horizon can be quite large, but for a they aren't very large at all.

In fact, the larger the black hole, the weaker the tidal forces near its event horizon. So if you happened to be near a supermassive black hole, you could cross the event horizon without really noticing. Would you still be totally screwed? YOU BETCHA!

What do you think? If you could drop anything into a black hole, what would it be? Tell us in the comments below.


Explore further

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Source: Universe Today
Citation: What would it be like to fall into a black hole? (2014, September 8) retrieved 26 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2014-09-fall-black-hole.html
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Sep 08, 2014
"AAAHHHHH AHHHH MY LEGS MY LEGS!!!".

From what I gather, depending on the size of the black hole, you'd already be going rather fast at that point...so you'd have no time to yell anything between the onset of tidal stretching and being fully spaghetti-smeared (or hitting the singularity).

Sep 08, 2014
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Sep 08, 2014
Next question to follow no fate's line;
What does it feel like to get a unicorn horn up the wazoo?

How many leprechauns does it take to carry the pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow?


Sep 08, 2014
Thank God for Cold Fusion.

Sep 08, 2014
"the larger the black hole, the weaker the tidal forces near its event horizon."
our whole universe might be inside a huge black hole

Sep 08, 2014
When free falling you feel no force whatsoever, even into a black hole.

First, consider what it would be like if you remained stationary above a black hole. The forces on your feet would be much greater than your head. If you were stationary, like being on a platform, and you stepped off then, if the force was great enough, your feet would fly off toward the black hole and your head would fly off in the other direction relative to your torso.

Acceleration also has the same effect. If you were lying down on a rod that was accelerating then you would be compressed into a tiny blob because the amount of time dilation at each end of the rod is not the same.

Now put these two together ~ acceleration toward a black hole and the gravitational force (curved spacetime) of the black hole. Compress and expand together. They cancel each other out which is why in free fall you become weightless.

When you are weightless you feel no forces because there are no forces, they cancel out exactly

Sep 08, 2014
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Sep 08, 2014
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Sep 08, 2014
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Sep 08, 2014
Aligo learned lots of big words. He hasn't learned how to put them together rationally. Pity, that.

Funny. His citations are an internet image storage site. Guess he didn't get the memo about peer review.

He wrote, "Such a giant black hole would behave rather classically like the giant random sponge or fractal fluctuation of Boltzmann gas and it would radiate and absorb light randomly like the mixture of white and black holes."

The physicists I know about would *love* to know what goes on inside a black hole. But they're singularities. We don't understand the physics inside of them.

Anyone claiming to have figured it out - and with certainty, no less - with absolutely no evidence whatsoever (we can't peer past the event horizons, y'know), is a certifiable crank troll.

Sep 08, 2014
Missing from the author's amusing tale is any effort to grapple with time dilation effects. You *have* to grapple with those effects to understand what the traveler will experience and what observers will observe.

Sep 08, 2014
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Sep 09, 2014
@eltodesukane

For a Schwarzschild black hole, the less DENSE it is the lower the tidal force. 'Large' on its own is meaningless.

A Schwarzschild black hole can be of any density. For the universe to be a black hole with a radius of 13.5 billion light years the density would have to be pretty much what it is. With dark matter it is over the Schwarzschild limit even if the radius 90 billion light years.

If a black hole is very big and proportionally more massive then the tidal forces could easily be identical to a much smaller black hole.

If you quoted the article then they are wrong on even the most basic black hole science.

Back to grade school for those clowns ~ please, someone send them a book on relativity...preferably one with lots of pictures as they are obviously beginners...

Sep 09, 2014
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Sep 09, 2014
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Sep 14, 2014
Wouldn't time essentially stop for you as you came nearer and nearer to the speed of light as you fall in?

If so you really wouldn't notice anything at all, would you?

Sep 14, 2014
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Sep 14, 2014
If a black hole is very big and proportionally more massive then the tidal forces could easily be identical to a much smaller black hole.

If you quoted the article then they are wrong on even the most basic black hole science.


@RKStonjek -

The radius of the event horizon of a black hole increases linearly the black hole's mass. The tidal acceleration in an orbit is proportional to the mass one is orbiting divided by the CUBE of the distance.

So for a billion-stellar-mass black hole at the center of a galaxy the radius of the event horizon is a billion times that of a stellar-mass black hole, and the tidal acceleration (and hence the tidal force on any given object near the even horizon) is a billion billion times smaller.

So the article is correct on that point.

Sep 17, 2014
You are considering black holes of the same density. Schwarzschild black holes can have any density.

Thus we could start with the tidal force and ask what combination of density/mass black holes would produce that tidal force. There is more than one solution to that question except at the limits given by the very small dense black hole and the very large low density Schwarzschild black hole.

Sep 27, 2014
You are considering black holes of the same density. Schwarzschild black holes can have any density.


No, I am not 'considering black holes of the same density'.

I stated that the radius of the event horizon increases linearly with the black hole's mass. Since from an outside perspective the volume increases with the cube of the radius and thus the cube of the mass, the density therefore decreases proportionately to the square of the mass.

Try doing the math - I'll be happy to walk you through it if you want.

Sep 27, 2014
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