Do you realize that if you fall into a black hole, you will see the entire future of the universe unfold in front of you in a matter of moments and you will emerge into another space-time created by the singularity of the black hole you just fell into? - Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Once thought to be the most destructive force in the universe, black holes are places in space where gravity is so strong that nothing can escape, not even light.
While they’re impossible to see, as light can’t escape from a black hole, they can be detected by radio telescopes and the devastating effect they have on their neighboring celestial objects can also be measured using the same equipment.
What Causes A Black Hole?
Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity postulated that black holes are created by a sufficiently large mass that is big enough to warp and deform space-time.
In the nine decades since Einstein’s theory predicted their existence, astronomers and physicists have proved that they do exist and are created when a dying star, that has exhausted all of its energy and exploded (or gone supernova), then collapses in on itself.
During that collapse, the matter that formed the star is compressed to such a degree that it warps space-time around it and eventually becomes a black hole.
How Big Is A Black Hole?
While many astronomers are confident that there is a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way (don’t worry, as it’s approximately twenty-six thousand light-years away from Earth, it will be billions of years before it has any discernible impact on our Solar system), black holes are thought to exist in an infinitesimal number of different sizes.
The previously mentioned supermassive black hole is thought to have roughly the same mass as four million suns, and it isn’t alone as many scientists think that there is a supermassive black hole at the center of every galaxy and that they play an important role in the way in which galaxies move.
Conversely, the smallest black holes are the size of a single atom, but even though they’re impossibly small, they have the same mass as the largest mountains on Earth and have the same effect on the space-time that surrounds them, thanks to their exceptionally strong gravity.
Do Black Holes Suck Everything Towards Them?
Yes, and no. The gravity that surrounds a black hole will draw any objects that are close enough to it into it, and as they enter the event horizon (the point around a black hole at which even light can’ escape) they become trapped within its gravitational field and time essentially ceases to exist for that object as it is slowly elongated and drawn out to an infinite point - or as Professor Brian Cox gleefully refers to it, they’re spaghettified.
However, an object has to be close enough to a black hole for its gravity to slowly draw that object closer to it.
One of the more popular theories about black holes speculates that as objects, big and small, or drawn into them, the mass of the black hole gradually increases, and as a black hole’s mass increases, so does its gravity.
And the more gravity it has, the more objects it can “suck” into it.
The strangest thing about black holes though is that like stars, celestial bodies can actually orbit them.
Their gravitational fields are so strong, that objects that aren’t close enough to be drawn into, and over their event horizons eventually end up orbiting them.
This is one of the main reasons why the majority of astrophysicists believe that there is a supermassive black hole at the center of every galaxy, as it would help to explain and provide an easily identifiable reason for the rotational movement and pattern of galaxies.
If Black Holes Suck Everything Towards Them How Can There Be Anything Left In The Universe?
The simple answer is distance. Even though black holes generate staggering amounts of gravity, the universe is vast, and while some scientists believe that if you travel fast enough for long enough that you’d eventually come to the end of space-time as we understand it, others theories that it is, in fact, infinite and that the Big Bang was just one of many creation events that happened, in galactic terms, simultaneously.
Unless an object is close enough to a black hole be drawn nearer, and eventually sucked in, by a black hole, the only effect that a black hole will have on it is that it will either begin to orbit the tear in space-time that they occupy, or the black hole will have absolutely no effect on the object at all.
The other main reason that we, and every other planet and star in existence, haven’t been sucked into a black hole, is frequency.
There aren’t enough black holes in the universe to suck everything into them, and the majority of those that do exist aren’t big enough to create the sort of gravity that would be needed to pull everything over their horizons.
Most black holes are either the atom-sized singularities that we previously mentioned or they’re medium-sized, and while they still pose an imminent danger, there is absolutely no possibility of all universal matter being hoovered up by them.
Could It Ever Happen?
There are a number of theories that postulate that there is a possibility that back holes could cause the end of the universe, but the chances of any of them actually coming to fruition within the lifetime of our, let alone any other, galaxy are so remote that, for all intents and purposes, it’s absolutely impossible.
Unless the Big Crunch (the collapse of the universe, and the oppositional force that will, theoretically result in the cessation of space-time) directly plays a part in helping to feed the entire mass of the universe to all of the black holes that currently exist or an exponential number of supermassive black holes suddenly, and in complete violation of the laws of physics, winked into existence, there is absolutely no possibility of everything in the universe being sucked into, or being sucked up by, black holes.