Black holes are cosmic vacuum cleaners – massive objects so large that not even light can escape them.
most people imagine black holes Do nothing else, just sit there and eat pieces of gas or dust while wandering.
But could black holes really have more interesting inner life? For example, can they explode? If an “explosion” is a “sudden, brief release of a tremendous amount of energy,” then the answer is clearly yes. And the best part is that they can explode in a number of interesting ways, either by detonating themselves or in their immediate surroundings.
There is a way black holes can explode. The process behind this is related to the fact that black holes are not completely black, which was discovered by renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking in 1976.
“In classical physics, nothing can come out of the hole,” Ohio State University physicist Samir Mathur told Live Science in an email. “But Hawking found that quantum mechanics, the hole slowly leaks its energy to infinity by emitting low energy radiation; It’s called Hawking radiation.”
related: Are black holes wormholes?
Unless the black hole is sucking up new material, it will slowly lose mass while simultaneously emitting Hawking radiation. However, Hawking radiation is emitted slowly. A typical black hole with a mass several times that of the Sun emits about one photon, or packet of light, every year. At that rate, it would take 10^100 years for a normal black hole to completely evaporate.
But Hawking realized that smaller black holes evaporate more quickly. As the black hole gets smaller and smaller, it emits more and more radiation. In the final moments of its life, the black hole emits so much radiation so rapidly that it effectively acts like a bomb, releasing a torrent of high-energy radiation and particles.
If small black holes (about the size of .) Earth) formed in the very early universe, it would take a few billion years for them to evaporate, meaning that these “ancient” black holes, if they exist, would be exploding all over the universe right now.
To date astronomers have found no evidence of primordial black holes exploding, but they may be out there.
Black holes explode with another type of explosion found nowhere else in the universe, due to the fact that they spin. Rotating black holes – also called Kerr black holes in honor of New Zealand mathematician Roy Kerr, who first discovered how they work – form an ergosphere around their event horizon. The ergosphere is a long region of space where nothing can stand still. Any object that falls towards a revolving black hole begins to orbit around it as soon as the particle enters the ergosphere.
rotating space time Photons can also be pulled around a black hole. If there are enough photons, they can bounce off each other or any stray particles. Sometimes photons escape from the ergosphere by bouncing. But the second bounce causes the photons to fall deeper towards the black hole, where they gain energy. Then they can scatter again to a higher orbit, then fall down again.
With every repetition of the process, and with every trip around the black hole, the photon gains energy. This process is called “superradiation”. If the photon eventually breaks free, it will have an enormous amount of energy compared to when it first began its journey.
If enough photons participate in the process, they can all go out at once with incredible energy, creating what is known as a “black hole bomb”. Although black holes themselves do not explode, this superradiant effect once again shows how powerfully black holes can affect their environment.
disc and jet
The most common way that black holes cause explosions is not through their own destruction, but through the immense force of their tremendous gravitational force. Supermassive black holes sit at the centers of galaxies, and sometimes large clumps of matter, such as stars, pass very close by. When this happens, the star is torn apart by tidal effects, and this bursting process releases an explosive burst of energy. Astronomers on Earth can see this release of energy as a brief but intense flash x-ray And gamma ray Radiation.
In addition to truncating stars, these massive black holes often collect clumps of matter that continuously swirl around them in giant accretion disks. The accretion disks reach temperatures of quadrillion degrees, making them the brightest objects in the universe – a single glowing disk can outshine more than a million galaxies at once.
At their most powerful, the discs rotate with electricity and Magnetic Field Which funnels some of the disk material into and around the black hole as long, thin jets that reach tens of thousands of light-years.
Although these jets do not technically count as explosions, they are still very intense.
Originally published on Live Science.