What are Black Holes?
By Claire Miles - February 4, 2023

Black holes are some of the most fascinating and mysterious objects in the universe. Despite their name, they are not actually holes at all. Rather, they are regions of space where the gravitational pull is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape. They are formed when a star collapses at the end of its life, and they can be found throughout the universe. The concept of black holes was first proposed by John Michell in 1783. However, it wasn’t until the 20th century that the idea was further developed and accepted by the scientific community. 

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There are three main types of black holes: stellar, intermediate, and supermassive. Stellar black holes are the smallest, with masses that are several times greater than the Sun. They are formed when a star collapses at the end of its life and is no longer able to produce energy through nuclear fusion. Intermediate black holes, also known as intermediate-mass black holes, have masses that are a few hundred to a few tens of thousands of times greater than the Sun. Supermassive black holes are the largest type of black hole and can have masses millions or billions of times greater than the Sun. They are thought to be located at the center of most galaxies, including our own Milky Way. 

There is strong evidence to support the existence of black holes. For example, when a black hole and a star are in close proximity, the black hole can pull gas away from the star, forming an accretion disk. This gas is heated to extremely high temperatures and emits a bright light, which can be detected by telescopes. Despite the strong evidence for the existence of black holes, there are still many mysteries surrounding these objects. For example, it is not fully understood how they form or how they evolve over time. Scientists are also trying to understand how black holes can coexist with the laws of quantum mechanics, which govern the behavior of particles at the atomic level.