Jump Into A Black Hole With NASA’s Incredible New Visualization

Jump Into A Black Hole With NASA’s Incredible New Visualization
Jump Into A Black Hole With NASA’s Incredible New Visualization

If you have ever dreamed of flying into a black hole, but the idea of ​​your body getting spaghettified (yes, this is a real scientific term) into plasma is not appealing, NASA has a solution. Dive into an incredible new 360° visualization of what it would be like going around a black hole before plunging into the event horizon instead.

A black hole’s event horizon is the point of no return. Well, the surface of no return. The region separates the black hole from the rest of the universe. Once something crosses that threshold, nothing – not even light – can escape the gravitational pull of the black hole. Using a NASA supercomputer, it’s now possible to see what it would be like to fly around or even fall into a black hole.

“People often ask about this, and simulating these difficulty-to-imagine processes helps me connect the mathematics of relativity to actual consequences in the real universe,” astrophysicist Jeremy Schnittman at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who created the visualizations, said in a statement.

“So I simulated two different scenarios, one where a camera — a stand-in for a daring astronaut — just misses the event horizon and slingshots back out, and one where it crosses the boundary, sealing its fate.”

The black hole in question is similar to Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. It weighs 4.3 million times the mass of our Sun and has an event horizon of 25 million kilometers (16 million miles) across. In the visualization, you are moving faster than light, starting from 640 million kilometers (400 million miles) before approaching the black hole. And it’s a good thing this is a supermassive one.

“If you have the choice, you want to fall into a supermassive black hole,” Schnittman explained. “Stellar-mass black holes, which contain up to about 30 solar masses, possess much smaller event horizons and stronger tidal forces, which can rip apart approaching objects before they get to the horizon.”

In this second simulation, the camera approaches and falls towards the supermassive black hole before managing to escape.

If you were to actually fly around the black hole, your experience of time would also change. Such an object would keep you younger as time would slow down due to your speed and its gravity. From a distant observer, you would never appear to cross the horizon, even though you did. If you were on the orbiting-only trip, you would come back younger. In this visualization, you would be 36 minutes younger than someone who stayed at your starting position.

“This situation can be even more extreme,” Schnittman noted. “If the black hole were rapidly rotating, like the one shown in the 2014 movie Interstellarshe would return many years younger than her shipmates.”

Black holes are fascinating and very complex objects, so visualizations such as these help bring some of their peculiarities to life.

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