Understanding Black Holes Essay

3433 words - 14 pages

Every day we look out upon the night sky, wondering and dreaming of what lies beyond our planet. The universe that we live in is so diverse and unique, and it interests us to learn about all the variance that lies beyond our grasp. Within this marvel of wonders, our universe holds a mystery that is very difficult to understand because of the complications that arise when trying to examine and explore the principles of space. That mystery happens to be that of the ever elusive, black hole. This report will hopefully give you the knowledge and understanding of the concepts, properties, and processes involved with the space phenomenon of the black hole. It will describe how a black hole is generally formed, how it functions, and the effects it has on the universe.What is a black hole?By definition, a black hole is a region where matter collapses to infinite density, and where, as a result, the curvature of space-time is extreme (Bunn, Black Holes FAQ). Moreover, the intense gravitational field of the black hole prevents any light or other electromagnetic radiation from escaping. But where lays the “point of no return” at which any matter or energy is doomed to disappear from the visible universe? The black hole’s surface is known as the event horizon. Behind this horizon, the inward pull of gravity is overwhelming and no information about the black hole’s interior can escape to the outer universe. Applying the Einstein Field Equations to collapsing stars (Schwarzschild, scienceworld). Kurt Schwarzschild discovered the critical radius for a given mass at which matter would collapse into an infinitely dense state known as a singularity. At the center of the black hole lies the singularity, where matter is crushed to infinite density, the pull of gravity is infinitely strong, and space-time has infinite curvature (Schwarzschild, scienceworld). Here it is no longer meaningful to speak of space and time, much less space-time. Jumbled up at the singularity, space and time as we know them cease to exist. At the singularity, the laws of physics break down, including Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. This is known as Quantum Gravity.Cauchy HorizonIn this realm, space and time are broken apart and cause and effect cannot be unraveled. Even today, there is no satisfactory theory for what happens at and beyond the rim of the singularity (Britt, The New History of Black Holes). A rotating black hole has an interesting feature, called a Cauchy horizon, contained in its interior. The Cauchy horizon is a light-like surface which is the boundary of the domain of validity of the Cauchy problem. What this means is that it is impossible to use the laws of physics to predict the structure of the region after the Cauchy horizon (Britt, The New History of Black Holes). This breakdown of predictability has led physicists to hypothesize that a singularity should form at the Cauchy horizon, forcing the evolution of the interior to stop at the...

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