Weird Science: A true story of black holes

An artist’s concept illustrates a quasar, or feeding black hole.

Black holes are real. New discoveries show some influence entire galaxies. In 1990 the Hubble space telescope observed stars orbiting something invisible. Images revealed evidence of a black hole 400 million times the mass of the sun dwelling in the Milky Way’s core. When a large star runs out of fuel it collapses under its own gravity and explodes. Outer shells of rich stardust shoot into space, some destined to form new planets and living things like you. An iron core remains and collapses until gravity becomes so strong a black hole is born from the stars’ ashes.

These mysterious objects are veiled by an event horizon, a point of no return where gravity becomes so strong nothing can escape — not even light. No one knows what lies behind the one-way curtain.
Some physicists believe supermassive black holes create passages, or wormholes to parallel universes. Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen published a paper to describe the tunnels through space. Oxford mathematician Charles Dodgson studied similar concepts in the 1800s. He was also a writer who used the pen name Lewis Carroll. It’s no coincidence he described Alice falling down a rabbit hole on her way to a strange wonderland.

Black holes also demonstrate how atoms are mostly empty space. If the sun were compressed into a black hole, it would be around the size of Manhattan. A black hole with the mass of Earth could fit inside a cantaloupe. You could be squeezed into a space smaller than an atom, and still contain an enormous amount of energy. If all the potential stored in your body was unleashed, the resulting explosion would dwarf the largest nuclear bomb ever built.

A recent discovery found supermassive black holes lurk in the core of nearly every galaxy and contribute to star formation. How they affect roughly a hundred billion-star neighborhood remains unknown.

If black holes directly affect star formation, a process necessary to forge elements vital for life, then the supermassive monster that’s floating right now 25,000 light years away, contributed to your existence today. That is true story of black holes.

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages. Opposing viewpoints are welcome. Send 100-word submissions to


Nearly 300 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

Almost 300 people were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years.


Tsarnaev defense lawyers in court Wednesday, seek family…

Lawyers for accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are due in court Wednesday to ask a judge to order prosecutors to hand over more information on the defendant's family.


Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…


Bomb squad detonates backpacks left at Marathon finish…

The Boston Marathon finish line has been evacuated and the Copley Square T station has been closed as police investigate a suspicious package, WBZ is reporting.


'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…


TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…


'Orphan Black' is back with 'crazy clone shenanigans'

“Orphan Black” is the little show that could. It had a few things working against it: a sci-fi premise, attracting an audience who had never…

The Word

Kelly Osbourne and Paris Hilton fight over a…

Paris Hilton and Kelly Osbourne, both members of famous families and natives of the reality boom of the early aughts, should be great friends. And yet.


MLB video highlights: White Sox beat Red Sox…

Red Sox fall on walk-off error to White Sox


NBA Draft Lottery day is May 20: Celtics…

NBA Draft Lottery day is Tuesday, May 20: Celtics percentage odds for a top overall pick


Opinion: Major League Baseball replay system shouldn't be…

Opinion: Major League Baseball replay system shouldn't be dumped just yet


Bruins - Red Wings preview: David Krejci ready…

Bruins - Red Wings preview: David Krejci ready to erupt once again in playoffs


Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…


How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…


Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.


Google Glass finally goes on sale for regular…

The Google Glass finally went on sale for regular people. It only costs $1,500.