Are Black Holes Really “Black”?
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Are Black Holes Really “Black”?

By Future Scientists Club

Complete darkness. A region of spacetime where gravity is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape it. Is it really true? Scientists have been studying black holes for decades, and they’ve made some exciting discoveries.

Black holes have a couple of basic properties. First, they have temperatures inversely proportional to their masses, which means that a higher mass equates to a lower temperature. Second, black holes have an event horizon, a theoretical boundary beyond which nothing can escape the immense pull of its gravity, not even light.

In the mid-1600s, Issac Newton discovered gravity, and recognized that there is an attractive force exerted by all objects. Over 200 years later, Albert Einstein found that the speed of light in a vacuum is constant and that distortions in space-time are created by massive objects—it’s these space-time distortions that give rise to the apparent gravitational forces between objects. Einstein explained in his theory of general relativity that the gravitational pull of an object and the warp it exerts in space does not only affect the object’s motion, but also impacts its surrounding space and time. A few decades later came a new theory set forth by Stephen Hawking. In 1974, Hawking combined Einstein’s theory of general relativity with quantum mechanics and postulated that black holes in fact emit radiation and are not completely “black.” Hawking contended that this radiation is the result of a quantum effect near the event horizon, where subatomic particles are composed in pairs, and as one particle escapes the black hole, the other gets sucked into it.

Another monumental theory that could further shed light on the behavior of black holes is string theory, which proposes that reality is made up of vibrating strings that are even smaller than atoms, as strings are the only particles in our universe that can collide and rebound without losing great amounts of energy and momentum. String theory is known as the “Theory of Everything,” as it attempts to unify general relativity and quantum mechanics in describing how gargantuan forces affect tiny objects in our universe, such as electrons and protons. This could apply to the paradoxical nature of black holes that Hawking illuminated nearly 50 years ago.

All in all, black holes represent a gateway to the cutting edge of modern physics, with many more exciting discoveries to come!


References

Soter, S., & deGrasse Tyson, N. (2001). The Country Parson Who Conceived of Black Holes. In Cosmic horizons: Astronomy at The Cutting Edge. story, New Press. https://www.amnh.org/learn-teach/curriculum-collections/cosmic-horizons-book/john-michell-black-holes#:~:text=A%20black%20hole%20is%20a,Michell%2C%20an%20English%20country%20parson

Glaser, L. B. (n.d.-a). Hawking’s Black Hole theorem observationally confirmed. Cornell College of Arts & Sciences. https://as.cornell.edu/news/hawkings-black-hole-theorem-observationally-confirmed#:~:text=Hawking%20eventually%20squared%20the%20two,fundamental%20revelations%20about%20black%20holes 

Kluth, L. (2023). Black hole Illustration.