May 31, 2020 – Black Hole Nearby

There is a super massive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy, a cool 25,000 light years away.  I like to keep a good distance, don’t want to experience that intense amount of gravity.  Get too close, past the event horizon and you’re gone, maybe out of the universe?  No one knows.  Some speculate that your information becomes lost to the universe, but that violates conservation of information theory.  So, yet another controversy exists in science as others claim the information comes back in another form.  Bottom line don’t go jumping into a black hole.

Black hole refresher.

Imagine if you will a point in space.  Not an object, just a point with no discernable size.  Then imagine the space around this point, so warped that the space becomes opaque.  Opaque because light cannot escape or pass through. Light coming close but not entering wraps around it. The point in space is called a singularity and the surrounding space so affected by this singularity’s mass/gravity is the black hole.  The stronger the singularity’s gravity the bigger the black hole.

Black holes can be as small as a millimeter, with mass/gravity equivalent to our Moon.  They can be as huge as 400 times the size of our Sun, with mass/gravity equivalent to 10 billion Suns.  Our Milky Way has the second type, about 4 million times the mass of our Sun. Supermassive.

Black holes exist because massive stars exist.  Stars with mass greater than about 20 times our Sun’s mass are destined to become black holes if they don’t blow themselves apart first.  Supermassive black holes develop by collecting stuff like stars, and other black holes.

Astronomers have recently discovered a black hole about 1,000 light years away, in our neighborhood considering the size of our Milky Way. It’s in the constellation Telescopium, south of Sagittarius and at best on our summer southern horizon.  Wouldn’t matter if it were high in the sky, the black hole is not visible – it’s a black hole!  Anyway, it is only about 25 miles in diameter.  So, how was it found?

Even though it is only 25 miles across, it has the mass/gravity of a star much larger than the Sun.  Its gravity affects the motion of a star in a known binary system.  Now astronomers have determined it is a member of that star system, having collapsed into a black hole before its mates.  They will possibly do the same.

Might there be black holes even closer, maybe in our Solar System? Not likely, even micro black holes, with their small mass/gravity would be detectible. But what would happen if one got close to Earth?

I do not want to find out.

What’s in the Sky?

We still have a conjunction going on.  Jupiter and Saturn share the south-southwestern sky in the pre-dawn hours.

The June 5th full Moon (Strawberry Moon) is near perigee and slightly bigger than most full Moons