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Black Holes 101

Black Holes aren’t just made-up stuff in sci-fi movies – they may actually exist! So what exactly are they – and what are the chances of you ever coming across one in your lifetime?


A Star is Born

Stars are born every day. Just like people, these balls of hot gas grow up, get older and eventually die. Unlike people, stars shrink as they age. Inside a huge young star, hydrogen atoms crash into each other to form helium in a process called nuclear fusion, which releases huge amounts of energy. We see some of that energy as light. If we’re close enough to the star, we can also feel that energy as heat.


Battle Zone

A star is basically a battle zone its whole life. Not only does its own gravitational force attract anything nearby, it also pulls the star itself inward, trying to crush it into a super-dense, super-small mass. At the same time, the star’s nuclear engine gives off a huge amount of energy that pushes outward, counteracting the inward force of the star’s own gravity. As a result, the star doesn’t explode or collapse.


However, when a star starts to run out of hydrogen, there’s a lot less energy being given off to counteract the gravitational force that’s pulling inward. Eventually, the star collapses. The bigger the star, the smaller the mass it collapses to become when it dies.


Ashes, Ashes

When a mid-size star like our own sun dies, its gravitational force turns it into a heap of ash about the size of the Earth. Considering you could fit a million Earths into the sun, that’s a pretty small, extremely dense mass of stuff. But that’s nothing compared to what happens when a truly massive star collapses – the pressure is so huge that the star’s electrons actually get shoved into the nuclei of its atoms, where they react with the protons to form neutrons. The star, now made mostly of jammed-together neutrons, is called a Neutron Star, and it’s squeezed together so tightly that a golfball-sized piece of it would actually weigh as much as a billion elephants!


The Death of a Star: The Inside Story

When the biggest stars collapse, their gravitational pull becomes so huge that NOTHING can escape their pull – not even light. This makes them INVISIBLE, which is why they are called Black Holes. Anything and everything that comes near a black hole – gas, light, astronauts – gets sucked in, never to be seen again. A black hole is definitely not a good spot for a vacation!


If you’re confused about how light can be “sucked in” by gravity, think of it this way: On Earth, you can beat the pull of gravity if you travel fast enough – about 7 miles per second. This is how fast a spaceship must go in order to be launched. A black hole has such tremendous gravitational pull that in order to escape it you must travel at more than the speed of light, which is 186,000 miles per second. Nothing can go faster than light – not even light (of course!). That’s why a black hole is black. So how do we know it’s there?


Back in Black

In 1970, the satellite Uhuru came across a star called Cygnus 1 that was acting mighty strange, as though it were being dragged around by something that couldn’t be seen. This invisible something had the gravitational pull of 10 suns and appeared to be tearing gas away from the star. Yet, despite gobbling up all that bright, glowing gas, it did not glow. That was the first good piece of evidence for a black hole. Since then, lots more evidence has been collected by the Hubble Space Telescope.


Some astronomers think all this evidence that’s been collected means there are super-massive black holes made from millions of collapsed stars at the center of every galaxy. There may also be mini black holes the size of pencil points or peas! And some people even believe black holes are gateways to other universes. If that’s a door you think you may like to walk through, just be sure you’ve got a round-trip ticket!


Video: Black Holes


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eclipse11
eclipse11 posted in General:
My pic is of Eridan from homestuck.))
reply about 2 hours
ThePaleWalker636
Smiling with gratitude, Polaris spoke again. “Thank you, kind sir. Our people remember Those who assist us. But, do you swear? Swear that you will leave this December   For our lands, and bring to your skills and wit To save our young heir from the clutches of beasts?” Star Swirl became hesitant when at last he heard The nature of his quest, but he did not cease   In his resolve, and he swore by the Sun and the Moon “By Celestia and Luna’s names, I swear I will rescue your heir, Polaris, and I will depart At the dusk of tomorrow from here.”   “Truly you are a stallion of strength. I will guide to your quest at the time you may. The details I soon will reveal As we continue upon our way.”   The feast was concluded and all fell to sleep, But Star Swirl lingered when Polaris he espied By the fire, watching the flames And the wizard sat down at the unicorn’s side.   “Tell me of this heir you have spoken. What is their name, and by whom were they taken? Or what, should I say? By ‘beast’ mean you dragon?” Polaris sighed. His countenance seemed to be shaken.   “Her name is Royal Blue, and she is my daughter. She was indeed taken by beasts, us beaten and battered, A tribe of savages like never before seen. They are ponies with minds bended and shattered.   So savage are they, we know not how We are to defeat them without harming my child. They do not allow us to approach Without threats of her death by animals wild.”  
reply about 3 hours
SecretBlogger
SecretBlogger posted in General:
 Right now? An anime girl who I think I kindof look like, except for the fact she looks like she can kick serious butt, where i would just hurt myself trying. (I would definetly try tho....)
reply about 4 hours
PrincessRhiannon
Just little ol me  :wave [s:sm3/1jw1] [s:sm3/1jw2] I'm new here, so hello everyone!  :thumbsup :party ;)
reply about 5 hours
ThePaleWalker636
((Author's Note: A My Little Pony poem inspired by Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Edits and suggestions are accepted in the comments. If you would like to add on to this and continue writing it yourself, I will create a master post of the finished product and may include suggestions and other people's work, whom I will credit. Thank you.)) After the battle to banish the Empire succeeded, The pony of shadows now for a thousand years gone, The feasts of celebration were well underway, And the Princesses rejoiced that the battle was won.   Star Swirl the Bearded, great wizard of old, Had remained there as long as he may, But as soon as he rose, the hall to leave There came an event that forced him to stay.   A figure stepped in from the midst of a storm: The doors were flung open with tremendous might By a stallion of stature like never before seen His presence alone dimmed the room’s light.   His hooves pounded the floor and forced it to crack Legs like tree-trunks, and a voice like thunder His eyes flashed like stars underneath his hood All present had their composures thrown asunder.   “Greetings!” The unicorn cried to the thrones. “I have traveled from the Northland’s wastes To meet the Sisters of much I have heard And so I have arrived, coming with haste.”   Celestia bowed with grace to this stranger “We accept you in our halls, you are to be certain You will be welcome as long as you stay. But I request you tell of your journey and all it may pertain.   Begin with your name, if you please,” she concluded. And the unicorn nodded in acceptance. “Of course. You behold Polaris, a messenger For my people, and have come to pay penance   To the rulers of our far away neighbors. I am the chieftain of my tribe in the North, Masters of snow and flame in our magic. But now we are in need, and I have come forth   To beg of you your assistance.” He bowed in his head, in pleading he waited While averting his eyes to the ground. Not wanting the Princess to know what was unstated.   Star Swirl arose, proudly he stood, His horn lit aflame to point to the sky. “Of course we will help! I’ll accompany you myself!” He did not pause to ask Polaris why.  
reply about 5 hours