Can the Earth be affected by a black hole in the future? – Cancer, 12 years old, Dimapur, India.
That's a great question.
As you know, black holes are called this because the gravity in their center is so strong that it sucks in all the near light. Neither can escape. This is the strong gravitational pull of a black hole
Black holes create the strongest gravitational pull in the universe (we know). So you really don't want to get close to one.
If you get too close, pulling the gravity out of the black hole is so intense that you can never escape, even if you are traveling at the speed of light.
This point of return is called the "event horizon".
Another reason you don't want to get too close to a black hole is because of something called "spaghetti".
Turn a star into stripes of spaghetti
Imagine an object in space as a star. As the star approaches a black hole, one side pulls harder than the other. This is because one side of the star will be closer to the black hole than the other.
The pull from gravity will be stronger than the country closest to the black hole and weaker than the farther away.
This difference in gravity (called the "tidal force") would cause the star to shatter. It's like pulling a lump of pasta in spaghetti.
Sometimes astronomers can observe what is happening in other galaxies. The technical name is "tide and tide event", but it just means that a star gets too close to a black hole and pulls away.
Here's the artist's impression of what spaghetti can look like:
The nearest black hole is too far away to hurt us
Fortunately, though, we don't have to worry. There are no black holes close enough to Earth to affect us. The closest black hole to Earth we know is called V616 Monocerotis. Also known as A0620-00.
This black hole is 6.6 times more massive than our Sun. (This means that there is a lot of mass, which means that there is a really strong gravitational pull – much stronger than even the gravitational pull of our Sun.)
If Earth exits about 800,000 kilometers (3.7 light seconds) from this black hole, it will pull. But this is unlikely to happen and certainly not in your lifetime.
V616 Monocerotis is about 3,300 light-years away. This is very, very far
Hello, curious children! Do you have a question you want an expert to answer? Ask an adult to send their question to [email protected]
Jenny Hoorman, PhD, Astrophysics, University of Queensland
This article was republished by The conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.