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All About Black Holes

When you look at the simplistic coat hanger and paper mache models of the solar system in your science class you might be tempted to believe that scientists have the universe figured out. Think again. The universe is a crazy place - full of crazy things that we can't quite explain. Check out the 411 on one of the strangest phenomena we've found so far - black holes!

What Are Black Holes?

Simply put, a black hole is a region of space from which nothing can escape. It's created when a star dies. That's right, just like everything else, stars are born, age and die. When a star is dying, it burns up all the fuel inside of it, explodes into a supernova (the giant explosion caused by a star dying) and the remaining matter crunches down into a small point called singularity. This point's gravitational pull is so strong that it turns into a giant vacuum. Nothing can escape it - not even light! Since black holes absorb light, you can't see them (they're called black holes for a reason) but you can see the cluster of planets and stars that have been sucked towards the hole by it's enormous gravitational pull.

Unlocking the Mysteries of Black Holes

Scientists can't quite figure out what happens to stuff that gets sucked up by black holes but they sure do have a few theories. You see, one of the basic laws of physics is that matter and energy can never be created or destroyed - they just change forms. So peeps get pretty confused when black holes suck stuff up and then eventually disappear without a trace. For thirty years, Stephen Hawking, one of the world's most respected physicists, claimed that energy and matter can never escape black holes. This led some other researchers to speculate that black holes are either the only place where matter and energy can be destroyed or that may be portals to other universes. Now, much to the disapointment of science fiction fans everywhere, Stephen Hawking has conceded that perhaps information can escape the grips of a black hole. The smartest people in the world can't figure this stuff out so don't feel bad if some of this is a little confusing.

Black Holes - Did U Know?

  • It takes trillions of years for a black hole to disappear.
  • There is a giant black hole in the center of our universe.
  • Black holes are heavy. The black hole at the center of the Virgo constellation is only a few miles wide but it weighs as much as 3 billion of our suns.

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