Understanding Black Holes Essay

2647 words - 11 pages

Understanding Black Holes

A Black hole is a theorized celestial body whose surface gravity is so strong that

nothing, including light, can escape from within it's surface. Gravity is the key to a

black hole's immense power. The black hole's strong gravity keeps captured material

from escaping. For example, if Earth were the same mass it is now but had only

one-fourth its present radius, the escape velocity of someone standing on its surface

would be twice what it is now. Black holes have a power far greater than our minds

can imagine. This report will go into further discussion on these massive holes in space.

Now, though, astronomers have uncovered a much better candidate for a black hole

in our galaxy. It lies in the constellation Monoceros some three or four thousand

light-years away. Monoceros was discovered in 1975, when it emitted a shower of

light and x-rays. Observations soon revealed that Monoceros was a binary consisting

of an orange dwarf star and a dark companion. Astronomers continue to observe the

object and other black holes like it. Despite its name, A0620-00, it is a better

candidate for a black hole than Cygnus X-1.(Croswell 30-37)



As I said before, gravity is the key for a black hole’s immense power. The black

holes strong gravity keeps captured material from escaping. Of course, every moon,

planet, and star has gravity. Earth has enough gravity that you have to travel faster

than 11 kilometers per second to overcome the force of gravity. This number is

Earth’s escape velocity. The gravity of Jupiter is even stronger: it’s escape velocity

is 60 kilometers per second. A black hole has so much gravity that to escape one

you would have to be traveling faster than the speed of light, 300,000 kilometers

per second. But traveling faster than the speed of light is impossible, so once you

get into a black hole you can’t get out.(Levitt 83)

Black holes may form during the course of stellar evolution. As nuclear fuels

are exhausted in the core of a star, the pressure associated with their heat is no

longer available to resist contraction of the core to ever higher densities. Two new

types of pressure arise at densities a million and a million billion times that of water,

respectively, and a compact white dwarf or a neutron star may form. If the core

mass exceeds about 1.7 solar masses, however, neither electron nor neuron pressure

is sufficient to prevent collapse to a black hole. Knowing more about galactic black

holes will help astronomers learn more about the evolution of galaxies and the

relationship between galaxies, black holes, and quasars.

Astronomers Holland Ford, Richard Harms, and colleagues have used data from

the Hubble Space Telescope to develop strong evidence that a black hole exists in

the center of the elliptical...

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