A black hole is anything but empty space. It is a great amount of matter packed into a very small area – for eg.think of a star ten times more massive than the Sun squeezed into a sphere. The result is a gravitational field so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape. Black holes are stranger than anything dreamt up by science fiction writers.
HOW A BLACK HOLE COMES INTO EXISTENCE?
Black holes were predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity, which showed that when a massive star dies, it leaves behind a small, dense remnant core. If the core's mass is more than about three times the mass of the Sun, the equations showed, the force of gravity overwhelms all other forces and produces a black hole. We can, however, infer the presence of black holes and study them by detecting their effect on other matter nearby. If a black hole passes through a cloud of interstellar matter, for example, it will draw matter inward in a process known as accretion. A similar process can occur if a normal star passes close to a black hole. In this case, the black hole can tear the star apart as it pulls it toward itself. As the attracted matter accelerates and heats up, it emits x-rays that radiate into space. Recent discoveries offer some exciting evidence that black holes have a spectacular influence on the neighborhoods around them - emitting powerful gamma ray bursts, devouring nearby stars, and spurring the growth of new stars in some areas while stalling it in others.
ONE STAR’S END IS A BLACK HOLE’S BEGINNING
Most black holes form from the leftovers of a large star that dies in a supernova explosion. (Smaller stars become dense neutron stars, which are not massive enough to trap light.) If the total mass of the star is large enough (about three times the mass of the Sun), it can be proven theoretically that no force can keep the star from collapsing under the influence of gravity. However, as the star collapses, a strange thing occurs. As the surface of the star nears an imaginary surface called the "event horizon," time on the star slows relative to the time kept by observers far away. When the surface reaches the event horizon, time stands still, and the star can collapse no more - it is a frozen collapsing object.
BABIES AND GIANTS
Black holes appear to exist on two radically different size scales. On the one end, there are the countless black holes that are the leftovers of massive stars. Peppered throughout the Universe, these "stellar mass" black holes are generally 10 to 24 times as massive as the Sun. Astronomers spot them when another star draws near enough for some of the matter surrounding it to be snared by the black hole's gravity, churning out x-rays in the process. Most stellar black holes, however, lead isolated lives and are impossible to detect. Judging from the number of stars large enough to produce such black holes, however, scientists estimate that there are as many as ten million to a billion such black holes in the Milky Way alone.
A black hole has a boundary, called the event horizon. It is where gravity is just strong enough to drag light back, and prevent it escaping. Because nothing can travel faster than light, everything else will get dragged back also. Falling through the event horizon is a bit like going over Niagara Falls in a canoe. If you are above the falls, you can get away if you paddle fast enough, but once you are over the edge, you are lost. There’s no way back. As you get nearer the falls, the current gets faster. This means it pulls harder on the front of the canoe, than the back. There’s a danger that the canoe will be pulled apart. It is the same with black holes. If you fall towards a black hole feet first, gravity will pull harder on your feet than your head, because they are nearer the black hole. The result is, you will be stretched out longwise, and squashed in sideways. If the black hole has a mass of a few times our sun, you would be torn apart, and made into spaghetti, before you reached the horizon. However, if you fell into a much larger black hole, with a mass of a million times the sun, you would reach the horizon without difficulty. So, if you want to explore the inside of a black hole, choose a big one. There is a black hole of about a million solar masses, at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.
Information requires energy, and energy has mass, by Einstein's famous equation, E = m c squared. So if there's too much information in a region of space, it will collapse into a black hole, and the size of the black hole will reflect the amount of information. It is like piling more and more books into a library. Eventually, the shelves will give way, and the library will collapse into a black hole.
SIZE OF A BLACK HOLE
The larger the black hole, the less accurately the position of a particle in it is defined, so the more precisely the speed is defined, and the less chance there is that it will be more than the speed of light,. A black hole of the mass of the sun, would leak particles at such a slow rate, it would be impossible to detect it. However, there could be much smaller mini black holes. These might have formed in the very early universe, if it had been chaotic and irregular. A black holeof the mass of a mountain, would give off x-rays and gamma rays, at a rate of about ten million Megawatts, enough to power the world's electricity supply. It wouldn't be easy however, to harness a mini black hole. You couldn't keep it in a power station, because it would drop through the floor, and end up at the center of the Earth. About the only way, would be to have the black hole in orbit around the Earth.
ESCAPE FROM A BLACK HOLE
As particles escape from a black hole the hole will lose mass, and shrink. This will increase the rate of emission of particles. Eventually, the black hole will lose all its mass, and disappear. What then happens to all the particles and unlucky astronauts that fell into the black hole? They can't just re-emerge when the black hole disappears. The particles that come out of a black hole seem to be completely random, and to bear no relation to what fell in. It appears that the information about what fell in is lost, apart from the total amount of mass, and the amount of rotation. But if information is lost, this raises a serious problem that strikes at the heart of our understanding of science. However black holes aren’t as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons as they were once thought. Things can get out of a black hole, both to the outside, and possibly, to another universe. So, if you feel you are in a black hole, don't give up. There's a way out.
If information were lost in black holes, we wouldn't be able to predict the future, because a black hole could emit any collection of particles. It could emit a working television set, or leather bound volume of the complete works of Shakespeare, though the chance of such exotic emissions is very low. It is much more likely to be thermal Radiation, like the glow from red hot metal. It might seem that it wouldn't matter very much if we couldn't predict what comes out of black holes. There aren't any black holes near us. But it is a matter of principle. If determinism breaks down with black holes, it could break down in other situations. There could be virtual black holes that appear as fluctuations out of the vacuum, absorb one set of particles, emit another, and disappear into the vacuum again. Even worse, if determinism breaks down, we can't be sure of our past history either. The history books and our memories could just be illusions. It is the past that tells us who we are. Without it, we lose our identity.