For decades, the concept of the black hole has stumped even the most genius minds that humankind has to offer.
But new studies and advancements in science and technology have afforded scientists with a renewed invigoration to further study the mysterious universal phenomenon which gobbles up stars like specks of dust.
Black Holes — Do They Suck?
Essentially, a black hole is a celestial body which compresses a huge chunk of mass into an extremely small, compact space. A black hole’s gravitational pull is so strong that nothing can escape its maw, not even light. Hence, its name.
In fact, black holes are so powerful that they can even bend the laws of nature. And not even Albert Einstein, father of general relativity and physicist extraordinaire, believes that they could exist.
This seemingly mythical property has made spotting these exotic entities a particularly difficult affair. Though, scientists are now aware of a lot of things about black holes from the impact that they have on their surroundings.
In short, there are two kinds of black holes — a normal, run-of-the-mill black hole and a supermassive black hole.
The former are black holes formed when the centre of a massive star collapses on itself, thus creating a supernova. These type of black holes can be up to 20 times larger than our Sun, though relatively speaking, they’re still tiny in size compared to outer space. To put it into perspective, trying to see the closest black hole of this type to the Earth would be as if looking for a human cell on the surface of the moon.
Conversely, the latter — so-called supermassive black holes — are at least a million times bigger than the Sun. If you’ve ever wondered why our Milky Way is shaped the way it is, you have the Sagittarius A* to thank for it. This famous supermassive black hole sits at the centre of our galaxy and is responsible for the characteristic swirl of the stars in the Milky Way.