- The strange fate of a person falling into a black hole
- What Happens When You Enter A Black Hole? - Business Insider
- Will you see the universe end?
- What Exactly Is a Black Hole Event Horizon (and What Happens There)?
An outside observer who is very far away and watching you fall in will see your time slow down so much that it approaches a complete stop! To them, you will appear to slow down and freeze as you approach the event horizon, then fade away into darkness. It is as if their time were passing by infinitely faster than yours. So when you look out at them, the rate at which you see their time passing will approach infinitely fast - however, this does not quite mean that you get to see the entire future of the universe evolve before your eyes.
The problem is that there is no way for you to sit still at the event horizon. As soon as you get there, you are, by definition, pulled very quickly towards the center of the black hole.
The strange fate of a person falling into a black hole
As this happens, you will be shredded to pieces and killed by the black hole's tidal forces assuming this hasn't happened already , and furthermore, you will hit the singularity at the center of the black hole where nobody really knows what will happen to the material that used to be you!
Whatever happens, you certainly won't get a chance to see or make sense of any of the light that is coming in from the outside. Your trip from the event horizon to the singularity is so short that most of the light from faraway distances doesn't have time to reach you so that you can see it. Exactly how much of the future that you get to see depends on how slowly you are able to approach the event horizon.
The more you are able to "hold yourself back" before you fall in, the more of the outside universe's future you will be able to witness. For another physicist's take on this question, see this link. Dave is a former graduate student and postdoctoral researcher at Cornell who used infrared and X-ray observations and theoretical computer models to study accreting black holes in our Galaxy. He also did most of the development for the former version of the site.
Can you see the future as you fall into a black hole? This page was last updated June 27, About the Author Dave Rothstein Dave is a former graduate student and postdoctoral researcher at Cornell who used infrared and X-ray observations and theoretical computer models to study accreting black holes in our Galaxy. Similar Questions that might Interest You How do gravitons escape black holes to tell the universe about their gravity? Advanced What happens to spacetime inside a black hole? Intermediate If light has no mass, then what draws it into a black hole?
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What Happens When You Enter A Black Hole? - Business Insider
Editor's Pick. What is the universe expanding into?
Intermediate What do I need to do to become an astronomer? Beginner What's the difference between astronomy and astrology? Beginner Why is looking out into space the same as looking back in time? Although Nolan and the special effects team, guided by a prestigious theoretical astrophysicist, Kipp Thorne, produced one of the most scientifically accurate visuals of a black hole for the film, you don't get a good sense of what McConaughey's character sees or feels as he falls toward the center, which is unfortunate because what a black hole does to the human body is really cool.
Will you see the universe end?
Astronomers estimate that our galaxy harbors approximately million black holes. If you ever entered one, you would suffer a most horrible death and when it was all over, there would be no trace, no physical evidence that you ever existed. Prior to your terrible demise, however, you would see and feel some amazing, powerful, and downright trippy, stuff. Like planets and stars, there are both big and small black holes.
You will die regardless of what size of black hole you enter. But the time it takes you to die upon approach and what you see beforehand strongly depends on your black hole of choice.
Let's first look at the closest black hole to Earth, called V Sgr for the star that orbits it. Black holes, by definition, are invisible, so astronomers usually find them by the stars and gas that orbit around them. Calculating the distance to a black hole is equally hard as finding one, but as far as we know, V Sgr is between 1, and 24, light years away , located in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius.
V Sgr is an example of a small black hole.
It's two to three times more massive than our sun, and all that mass is confined to a space less than 4 miles across. This means the center of the black hole, called the singularity, is incredibly dense and therefore has a colossal gravitational pull, strong enough to trap light and everything else that comes too close. This also means that as you approach the black hole, you'll see blackness blotting out light from distant stars.
What Exactly Is a Black Hole Event Horizon (and What Happens There)?
But that's not all you'll see. Black holes distort the space around them, which in turn, bends the path along which passing light travels. As a result, you'll begin to see some very weird stuff upon your approach. Something like this:. Andrew Hamilton The outer ring is the result of gravitational lensing, when gravity bends light, distorting and magnifying what we would otherwise see in the absence of a strong gravitational force. Anything with a strong gravitational pull can create gravitational lensing, including massive galaxies and galaxy clusters. The edge of a black hole — outlining the black circle in the animation above — is called the event horizon.
It is known as the point of no return, or the exit door of the universe. Whatever passes the event horizon, including you, can never return because the black hole's pull is too strong to escape, even if you're traveling at the speed of light. However, you don't have to worry about reaching the event horizon in this case because you'll be dead long before that. Small black holes are especially lethal because they have very large tidal forces that will stretch you paper-thin before you even reach the event horizon.
This stretching action is called spaghettification because you look like a very long piece of unappetizing spaghetti when the tidal forces are done with you. One example of these tidal forces that will be pulling you apart, first explained by Isaac Newton, are tides on Earth. They're caused by the gravitational interaction between the Moon and our planet. Whichever side of Earth faces the Moon is the side that is closest and therefore feels the strongest gravitational tug compared to the opposite, farther side. The same thing happens to your body when you're nearing a black hole.
Here's what spaghettification would do to a spacecraft:. The top of your head is going to be closer to the black hole's center, called the singularity, than your feet. As a result, gravity's influence on your head will pull you toward the center of the black hole more than your feet, stretching you spaghetti-thin in the process. Eventually, you're stretched to the point you begin to break down into individual atoms.
And it does not take an expert to tell you that this would be a most unpleasant way to die! If you try to enter a black hole, you will get spaghettified no matter what. But a small black hole is going to kill you faster than a supermassive black hole, like the one at the center of our home galaxy, the Milky Way. Approximately 25, light years from Earth, at the center of our galaxy, there is thought to be a supermassive black hole that is 4. But, if you travel the distance to this larger black hole, you'll get close to the event horizon, and even pass it while still alive and coherent.
The view might make you feel a little off kilter at first but will be totally worth it:. Andrew Hamilton Why can you get closer to a large black hole? It's because the event horizon is farther from the center.