When the term “black hole” comes to mind, what do you think about? Do not let the name deceive you. They are a lot of things, but in no way, shape, or form are they empty space in the land beyond.  

They are seen in all sorts of science fiction stories, television shows, and movies today. The synchronized idea portrayed is that if you go through one, it will transport you to a new dimension or new galaxy. 4- dimensional space, interstellar travel, time travel, and hypothetical multiverses are nothing more than speculation and fantastic theory at this point. While the prospect of traveling to and from galaxies through some all dimensional portal is extraordinary and awesome, it is simply not the way of things at this point in time.  

You can avoid a lot of things in life, but taxes, death, and black holes are not three of them. Hopefully you will not ever come in contact with the latter. But in a hypothetical situation, upon reaching the event horizon of a black hole (think of it as once you reach a certain point within its surrounding range), your body will be torn apart completely. It will literally kill you. There is no turning back. As to whether it hurts, well no one has ever died from one yet. If they did, there would be no way to document whether it hurts or not. It is safe to say that you would not feel anything since you would die so quickly. Until there is a way to counter this ultimate doom, we can never know exactly what happens if you were to “navigate” your way through a black hole. In essence, if you could somehow counter the effects of black holes and make it through one, there just might be another side. But for now, it is simply not possible to survive the journey through. So the answer to whether black holes are used to travel back in time is a resounding no. If you are pulled in, you cannot survive. Period. The future of space travel is, of course, not fully blueprinted, and there is always room for scientific discovery and exploration of both fiction and reality.   

What exactly are black holes? An excellent question! No matter how much they are studied, there is much that will continue to remain unclear. What is known is that they are systems of squeezed, mutated matter that create extremely dense properties. Their ability to “pull” things in really depends on individual mass and distance, rather than size. Contrary to a popular belief, they are circularly shaped, not funnel shaped. The heart of them are known as singularities. These singularities comprise most of their masses.  

A new quantum mechanics theory has established that for every particle that enters a black hole, an antiparticle counteracts it. This means that one particle will be sucked into the singularity while another will be able launched in the escaping direction. This clearly contradicts the established fact that nothing can escape. Uncover the secrets of quantum mechanics and you may just earn yourself a noble prize. Uncover the secrets of quantum mechanics and you may just pave the way through black holes.  

To give you the idea of how they are formed, Einstein’s theory of relativity hypothesized that when a star dies it has potential to turn into something of true darkness, known as a black hole. Therefore, given the colossal 100 billion plus stars in the universe, there is potential for that many black holes. The key word here is potential, simply because stars need super massive masses to turn into black holes. Stars need to be more massive the earth’s sun, otherwise they will transform into black dwarfs (a hypothetical stellar remnant that no longer gives off significant light or heat to be seen). Still, asking someone how many black holes are in the universe is like asking someone how many grains of sand are on earth or how many liters of water make up all the earth’s seas, rivers, lakes, ponds, and reservoirs.  

Why can black holes not be seen? No light escapes from them. Nothing escapes from their pull once close enough. Although they are invisible to the naked eye, they can be studied by way of how objects around them interact and collide with other matter. That said, it’s no wonder black holes are still somewhat of a mystery to us. They are incredibly hard to study! And yet, astrophysicists have theorized that there are three types. There are miniature black holes, stellar black holes, and supermassive black holes. Miniatures have masses smaller than the Sun. They remain undiscovered to our sciences. For now… Stellars form as a result of the explosion of massive stars. They are just a very small fraction of the masses of supermassive black holes. Supermassive are at the center of galaxies. Yes, there is one at the center of the Milky Way. Sagittarius A is the name. It dominates amongst all others with some mass millions upon millions of times greater than If you were to look at the constellation around it, you could not tell it was there. Again, the way in which they are studied is by observing the interaction of matter in space and how matter interact with one another.  

Black holes range from being as tiny as an atom to as monstrous as the mass equivalent of 17 billion suns. Most black holes make up about 0.1% of their host galaxy’s mass, but a supermassive black hole found in 2012—some 250 million light years away—made up 14% of its hosts mass. The sheer mass is enough to cause a great amount of fear. But fear not! Planet Earth is more than safe. Even if the sun were to turn to a black hole, Earth would continue to orbit it. Sure, it would be a lot darker here and humans would undoubtedly freeze to a crisp. The black hole itself would not be the cause of destruction. And just so there is no confusion, we are still nearly 93 million miles away from the Sun—too far a distance to be affected. When the Sun dies out in perhaps 10 billion years, it will likely turn to a white dwarf star because its nuclear fuel has decayed to its end since the beginning of all time. Humans will not be around to see such a thing anyways, seeing as the planet will be far too hot to sustain life. So fear not. A black hole is not the fate of the Earth.  

Can black holes ever die? The short answer is yes. However, for that to happen, it would take trillions of years and a great sum of sequential events to take place at the precise time they need to.  

Now for the greatest question of all: are we living inside a black hole that exists in some other universe? It is possible, though we can never know the real answer to that. If, and if must be stressed, we had the technology to test such a hypothesis, we might be able to discover the answer. Unfortunately, that technology does not exist today, nor will it for a long while. If it is true, then the postulate of the multiverse complex just might be true after all.  

Black holes are, for sure, some of the strangest, most complex systems in the deepest parts of space. That said, they are also one of the most misunderstood complexities. Similar to oceans on Earth, only a miniscule percentage of space has been explored thus far. Perhaps what is seen on screen and read in books will one day become reality.

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I radiate both internally and externally, an infinitude of passion for creative thought, an unending lifelong code of self and peer-improvement, and an idiosyncratic perspective and outlook on all things good, bad, and in between. I believe that when we are, one day, gone, all that will have mattered is what we did to change this world, for better or worse.