Season 3, Episode 3, #AskAbby Space and Science Show: Homeschool Edition
Presented by TheMarsGeneration.org
What’s at the Center of a Black Hole?
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While science can tell us so much, there are still many unanswered questions! In episode 3 of the #AskAbby Space and Science Show: Homeschool Edition, Abby will discuss what modern-day physics can explain (and what it can’t explain) about the centers of black holes and white holes. The episode does not assume any background knowledge as Abby will also explain what quarks, singularities, and white holes are!
In this episode, Abby answers questions posed by 3rd grade teacher Amanda Scott from the Marietta Center for Advanced Academics (MCAA): What’s beyond the singularity of a black hole? What would happen if a quark popped into existence at the singularity of a white hole?
Transcription of “What’s at the Center of a Black Hole”
Hi everyone and welcome to #AskAbby: Homeschool Edition!
This is a new series of AskAbby meant to provide resources, as well as some really important bad space puns and jokes, to students who are now doing distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Each episode will feature questions submitted by students from around the world.
This episode is focused all about black holes and will feature questions submitted by 3rd grade teacher Amanda from the Marietta Center for Advanced Academics.
Question number one:
What’s beyond the singularity of a black hole?
But hold on, if you’re not very familiar with black holes, pause this video right now and go watch the previous AskAbby episode that was all about black holes. It’s linked below.
I’m assuming if you’re still here, or if you paused and you came back, you now have a pretty decent understanding of things like what a black hole is. But let’s start out by defining what a singularity is as well.
For those who don’t know, the singularity of a black hole is an infinitely small point at the very center of a black hole that contains a massive amount of, well, mass.
And at this point of the singularity, physics, as we know it, starts to sort of break down.
In Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, which explains gravity through the curvature of space-time, can’t actually completely explain what’s happening at a singularity.
However, a theory called Loop Quantum Gravity, developed in 2006 at the University of Pennsylvania, might just have some answers for us.
According to the theory of Loop Quantum Gravity, mass at the singularity of a black hole is compressed and then sent off to another part of the universe…or maybe even an entirely different universe.
So the tricky thing here is that we don’t really know if General Relativity Theory is right, and space-time breaks down at the singularity of a black hole, or if the Quantum Gravity Loop Theory is right, and the singularity of a black hole compresses matter and sends it off somewhere else. And since we don’t know, on to the next question.
Question number two:
What would happen if a quark popped into existence at the singularity of a white hole?
Two quick definitions here: A quark is a small elementary particle, even smaller than an atom. And a white hole is basically the opposite of a black hole. While a black hole has tons of matter and mass, a white hole has no matter and no mass. And while nothing can get out of a black hole, nothing can get into a white hole. And also, white holes are at this point a purely theoretical concept, meaning they haven’t been proven to exist, and we haven’t actually discovered any yet.
So if a quark appeared at the singularity of a white hole, the white hole would theoretically collapse because now it has matter in it, even though it’s a very small amount of matter.
So while a lot of the physics behind black holes remains unknown, we have new promising theories being created and new research being done every day to help us understand them better.
Until next time, keep safe, keep healthy, and keep learning! So long fellow travelers of spaceship Earth!