Understanding Black Holes

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Throughout the modern era of astronomy, a single type of celestial object has puzzled astronomers more than any other. Black holes, whose existence was only verified in the early 1990’s, have fascinated scientists ever since Einstein first proposed the theoretical concept in the 1930’s. A black hole is an object so tiny, but also so dense, that it has the power to pull planets, stars, and even light into its core, and ultimately destroy everything in its path. Over the past decade much has been discovered about these enigmas of space and time; however, many of these recent discoveries lead to more unanswered questions. Nevertheless, the basic life cycle of a black hole is now understood in ways thought to be impossible only twenty years ago. In order to begin to grasp the destructive force of a black hole, one must first understand its creation. Oddly enough, a black hole can only be formed from the death of a star, but no ordinary star can create a black hole; it has to be a super-massive star. Stars consist mainly of hydrogen, and the hydrogen atoms are under such great pressure that they collide and cause a fusion reaction, which creates helium. This constant fusion reaction within the star is what keeps it from collapsing onto itself, thereby sustaining its massive size for billions of years. When a normal-sized star begins to run out of hydrogen, eventually the entire star will begin to run out of hydrogen and the star will actually expand and engulf the inner planets (including earth) before contracting. An average sized star like that of our sun will now become the size of the Earth (Ando, 2004). This is called a white dwarf, and although white dwarves are too dim to be seen from Earth with the naked eye, they doe cont... ... middle of paper ... ... holes die but it takes awhile. Retrieved April 2, 2015 from http://www.wonderquest.com/black-holes.htm Morcone, J. (2007, December). 'Death Star' Galaxy Black Hole Fires at Neighboring Galaxy. Retrieved March 14, 2015, from http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/news/07-139.html Nadis, S. (2010). Exploring the galaxy-black hole connection. (Cover story). Astronomy, 38(5), 28-33. Retrieved April 2, 2015 from Academic Search Premier database. Talcott, R. (2010). A black hole caught in the act. Astronomy, 38(5), 25. Retrieved April 2, 2015, from Academic Search Premier database. Talcott, R. (2010). Black holes do a waltz. Astronomy, 38(5), 26. Retrieved April 2, 2015, from Academic Search Premier database. Taubes, G. (1999). String Theorists Find a Rosetta Stone. Science, 285(5427), 512. Retrieved April 2, 2015, from Academic Search Premier database.

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