150. The Not-Quite-Black Hole

19 Jun

Black Holes are dark, but(as you could guess from the title) they are not black. Not completely, they actually constantly produce radiation. I am not talking about galaxy destroying radiation beams here (although some actually do that) instead this is closer to something you can actually comprehend. It’s just light, electromagnetic radiation, which type of light I hear you ask? Every type, all wavelengths are present, everything from gamma rays and radio waves to the visible spectrum including such hits as beige and grey.

This constant glow saps energy from black holes, the less a black hole weighs the faster its energy is depleted as a result of this. This is called Hawking radiation, after Stephen Hawking naturally. This radiation is the thing that kills black holes. Do you remember the media frenzy surrounding the Large Hadron Collider? There they were claiming that the high-speed collisions would create black holes which would destroy the earth.

First things first, that is WRONG. Second thing, if it was true, there would be no threat. The atoms they are colliding simply don’t weigh enough, combining the weights of two and producing a black hole would still mean the gravity produced would still be the original gravity of two atoms, tennis balls are more of a threat when it comes to pure gravitational power. also of course it would be tiny, so tiny that Hawking radiation would near-instantly essentially evaporate the black hole out of existence. Evaporating black holes seems like an odd concept but it is exactly what happens, all of the mass converts, instead of going from a solid to a liquid or gas, it turns into energy. Simple… right?

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Posted by on June 19, 2011 in Articles, Misconceptions, Trivia


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