Astrophysics (Index)About

black hole

(region of such high mass that light cannot escape)

A black hole is a region of space with such high mass that gravity allows nothing to escape, including electromagnetic radiation. General relativity's consequence that gravity bends light suggests that enough mass within a small enough area could bend nearby light to the point where it cannot escape. Such an "object" could have a very small mass if sufficiently concentrated (in which case the volume of from which no escape is possible would also be very small). The surface-shape delineating the volume from which light cannot escape is termed its event horizon. Since black holes lose their ability to interact via EMR, seeing into them is impossible and they can be fully characterized from our point of view by just a few aspects: their mass, rotation (angular momentum) and electric charge (no-hair theorem). The event horizon forms a sphere if the black hole has no rotation, and forms an ablated sphere according to the amount of rotation. A common classification of black holes is by mass:

Stellar black holes are thought to form from stars that have burned off sufficient fuel that their fusion no longer keeps them hot enough to maintain the pressure to counteract gravity, allowing the mass to collapse (gravitational collapse). Very small black holes are also termed mini black holes or micro black holes, and in addition to primordial black hole theories, there are theories that cosmic rays or high-energy accelerators might create them. A Planck hole is the smallest possible black hole according to quantum theory. It would be smaller than an atom but would have the mass of "a flea's egg", about 1/50000 gram. Hawking radiation, a theorized quantum phenomenon that would slowly dissolve black holes would instantly dissolve one that small. Quantum fluctuations may be able to create such a black hole (a virtual black hole) for such a brief period.

Models for the formation of the largest black holes (SMBHs) that have been detected are a challenge, but there is no theoretical upper limit to the size of a black hole ignoring a means of forming it: conceivably the universe is a black hole in the process of formation, though current observations of the universe's expansion complicate such a theory.

Rotating black holes are more complicated, and virtually all black holes manufactured by astronomical events (e.g., core collapse supernovae) would rotate on creation, at least a little. Rotation can be slowed (or increased) by accretion, and other methods of slowing have been theorized (Penrose process and Blandford-Znajek mechanism). Models suggest a non-rotating black hole includes a point singularity (point where the equations governing normal space and mass reach zeros and infinities) at the center, but some models suggest a rotating black hole would have a ring-shaped singularity. Also, rotating black holes exhibit frame dragging, a rotation of space around them, and with sufficient black hole rotation, a layer of this dragged space can be traveling faster than light as compared to the surrounding space further out. This "faster than light" region is termed the ergosphere. (Such a region has been described as one in which a particle cannot stand still, and as far as I can understand, that's to say it is impossible for it to move fast enough, given the dragged frame it inhabits, to appear to be standing still in relation to the surrounding space further out.) The outer boundary of the ergosphere is termed the static limit or static surface.

The term black hole candidate (BHC) is used for observed astronomical objects under consideration as black holes, often X-ray source sources.

(physics,gravity,object type)
Further reading:

Referenced by pages:
accretion disk
accretion rate
advection dominated accretion flow (ADAF)
asymptotic giant branch (AGB)
active galactic nucleus (AGN)
alpha disk
baryonic matter
broad emission line region
black hole accretion rate (BHAR)
black hole binary (BHB)
black-hole information paradox
black hole merger
black hole mass function (BHMF)
black hole model
black hole shadow
black hole thermodynamics
binary star
Blandford-Znajek mechanism (BZ process)
Bondi radius
binary SMBH (BSMBH)
Chandra Deep Field South (CDFS)
Chandrasekhar limit
comoving units
compact object (CO)
Compton reflection
Compton scattering
computational astrophysics
cosmic string
direct collapse black hole (DCBH)
Eddington luminosity
Event Horizon Telescope (EHT)
electron degeneracy
extreme mass ratio inspiral (EMRI)
escape velocity (Ve)
event horizon (EH)
exotic star
final parsec problem
47 Tucanae (47 Tuc)
f(R) gravity
gas streamer
globular cluster (GC)
gravitational redshift
GRO J1655-40
gravitational wave (GW)
GW detection (GW)
gravitational wave spectrum
Hawking radiation
hypercompact stellar system (HCSS)
hypermassive neutron star (HMNS)
innermost stable circular orbit (ISCO)
jet current
Kerr black hole
law of cosmic censorship
light cone
Lovelock gravity
mass ratio (μ)
neutron degenerate matter
neutron star (NS)
NGC 3201
no-hair theorem
nova (N)
neutron star merger
Penrose Compton scattering (PCS)
Penrose process
photon sphere
Planck units
post-main-sequence star
primordial black hole
quasi-periodic oscillation (QPO)
quantum fluctuations
retrograde accretion
Salpeter timescale
Schwarzschild radius (RS)
Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS)
Spitzer Extended Deep Survey (SEDS)
gravitational singularity
supermassive black hole (SMBH)
SMBH formation
supernova remnant (SNR)
Soltan argument
SS 433
stellar-mass black hole
stellar evolution
stellar rotation
strong-field gravity
subgrid-scale physics
surface gravity
Taub spacetime
tidal disruption event (TDE)
tidal force
ultraluminous X-ray source (ULX)
X-ray burster (XRB)
X-ray source