At the Event Horizon
Credit: Andrew Hamilton; NSF

Over the Edge?

When you're poised on the brink, look down over the ultimate edge of the swirling chaos near an accreting black hole. Any brave (or foolhardy?) astronaut who decided to wander too close would fall through its event horizon and pass out of our Universe entire. The image above shows a physical simulation of the view of some unfortunate wayfarer floating freely under the influence of gravity at the black hole's event horizon (a boundary designed to keep information from us). What she encounters next depends on the nature of the black hole: whether the black hole is spinning, or electrically charged, or both. Try as she might, she's carried inward as spacetime falls into the black hole at the speed of light or greater. Astrophysicists are unsure exactly what her fate will: maybe spaghettified by the singularity which may lurk at the heart of the black hole; or burnt up by a firewall of radiation which may or may not exist just inside the event horizon. Perhaps she'd be able to escape through a wormhole, reappearing somewhere else in the spacetime of our Universe, or perhaps in some other, saner neighbor in the Multiverse.
Published: October 7, 2013

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Monday, 14-Oct-2013 18:00:27 EDT