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Discovery of black holes

Casa & Asa | 10-14 yrs | Animation, Video

What is a black hole?

A black hole is an area in space which has a very strong field of gravity and as a result, light is unable to escape from it. Due to this, black holes are invisible. In order to observe them, telescopes are equipped with special instruments which observe the behaviour of material and stars surrounding black holes in order to detect their presence. Black holes are formed when a large star dies and collapses into itself. It is this compression of matter into a tiny space, which causes the strong field of gravity.

Who discovered black holes?

In 1915, Albert Einstein published his Theory of General Relativity – upon which a majority of modern physics is based. Soon after its publication, German physicist Karl Schwarzschild found solutions to Einstein’s equations and predicted the existence of black holes.

In 1970, it was the theoretical work of Stephen Hawking which defined black holes as we now understand them. His studies revealed characteristics of black holes – their ability to have a temperature and give off heat, which played a part in helping future scientists understand them better.

What are the different types of black holes?

As per different theories, there may be three types of black holes (based on their masses)-

1. Miniature Black Holes – Their mass is much smaller than that of the sun. None have been discovered so far.

2. Stellar Black Holes – They are formed when a massive star collapses.

3. Supermassive Black Holes – They are most likely formed as a byproduct when a galaxy is formed and as result are at the centers of galaxies. They are surrounded by stars and gas clouds and continue to feed on matter and grow.