What is a Black Hole (concept and types)

A black hole is an area in space where the gravitational field is so strong which prevents even light from escaping.

The concept of an object so enormous that light could not escape was first suggested, in 1783, by geologist John Michelll (1724-1793) and the term “black hole” was the idea of ​​theoretical physicist John Wheeler in 1967.

Scientists hypothesize that black holes are generated when a massive star dies and its mass falls or implodes at a proportionally smaller point in space.

A black hole forms when a body of mass M contracts to a size smaller than its gravitational radius, making the escape velocity equal to the speed of light.

According to the theory of relativity, nothing can travel faster than light. In this way, everything that is on the bordering edge of the black hole, “the event horizon”, drags the light and matter that surrounds it inward.

A black hole is not visible to the naked eye because gravity literally devours light. Scientists are able to identify a black hole in space when they find stars whose behavior is affected by massive gravitational forces indicating that they are close to a black hole.

The gravity in a black hole is strongly concentrated due to the large amount of mass accumulated in a very small space. It is as if, for example, we put all the mass of the Sun in a small room. The room may contain the mass but it does not prevent it from generating gravitational waves that affect its surroundings.

Types of black holes

Black holes can be of different sizes. Scientists divide them into 3 sizes:

Little ones: black holes the size of an atom but with the mass of a mountain,
Stellar: black holes that contain masses equivalent to 20 times the Sun. These are the most common black holes in our galaxy: the Milky Way or Milky Way.
Supermassive: They are black holes that contain masses equivalent to more than 1 million times that of the Sun. It is believed that every large galaxy has a supermassive black hole at its center. The supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way is called Sagittarius A and the analogy of 4 million suns in a ball is made.

First image of a black hole

First image captured in 2019 of a supermassive hole and its shadow.

In 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project managed to capture, for the first time in history, the image of a supermassive black hole and its shadow in the Messier 87 galaxy.

The EHT project, on a planetary scale, connected 8 radio telescopes around the world, more than 200 scientists, 5 billion gigabytes of information and, after 3 years of research, has managed to capture the first evidence of what until now was only a theory, starting with Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity.

The first photograph of a black hole and its shadow is important because it confirms theories, in addition to showing how matter behaves around the black hole. In this way, new discoveries about the behavior of the universe are possible.

Another of the great achievements that this image gives us is the creation of an algorithm capable of integrating an amount of information that until then was impossible. We owe this breakthrough to Katie Bouman, an electronics and computer science engineer.

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