Black holes are some of the most mysterious objects in the universe. They are massive space objects that form when a star dies, and they are usually located at the center of virtually every large galaxy. These objects are known for their potent gravitational pull, which is so strong that nothing can escape once it enters its event horizon, not even light.
On May 3, NASA released a new video that provides a closer look at these fascinating objects. The video showcases a variety of black holes, ranging from small to supermassive, highlighting the “super” in supermassive black holes. These monsters can be found in the centers of most big galaxies, including our own Milky Way, and contain between 100,000 and tens of billions of times more mass than our sun.
The animated video, which is over 90 seconds long, offers viewers a tour of 10 black holes, showing their different sizes and shapes. It compares the size of black holes first with the sun and then all the way to a galaxy, providing a sense of scale for these massive objects.
When we see a conceptual image or picture of a black hole, it usually doesn’t show a dark spot, but a luminous disk surrounding it comprising gas and dust. The disk is called an “accretion disk.” The material revolving around the black hole is eventually consumed and falls into the black hole. What happens when an object falls into a black hole is still a mystery, and scientists are still trying to understand what lies inside these objects.
Douglas Gobeille, an astrophysicist and black hole researcher at the University of Rhode Island, explains that “black holes are terrible at eating things. They are notoriously picky eaters.” While astrophysicist Misty Bentz tells us that “we tend to anthropomorphize these things. But really, black holes aren’t evil, mean, or scary. They just… are.”
The new NASA video offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of black holes, reminding us of the vastness and complexity of the universe.