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Black Hole Basics

The gravity of black holes is so strong that light is pulled in. Black holes are areas in space where there is a huge amount of mass in a very small space. The gravity of this mass is so great that everything in the area is pulled toward the mass. Even light, with its tiny mass, is pulled into the center of the hole. No object can escape the gravitational pull of a black hole.

Have we ever seen a black hole? No. Actually you can't see a black hole because no light escapes the event. Astronomers use other ways to look for black holes. Since they have large masses and gravities, they affect the surrounding stars and systems. They have found evidence of black holes in the dark centers of galaxies and systems that emit large amounts of x-rays.

Black Hole Structures

When stars start to die, they collapse. Eventually they can create a white dwarf or a neutron star. Very large stars can collapse and become almost infinitely dense. Their gravity increases a respective amount. As the gravity increases, you can imagine that everything gets heavy. Nothing could escape the star's gravity. Now imagine that dead star with a gravity so strong that light can't even escape. When light can't get out, you have a black hole. The Sun is too small to become a black hole. It takes large stars with even larger masses to become a black hole.

Centers Of Galaxies

We just mentioned that there might be black holes at the center of galaxies. As astronomers develop more advanced telescopes they have been able to see large dark areas at the center of many galaxies. The dark areas have masses that can be several billion times the mass of our Sun. They have determined the large mass by watching the speed of the stars orbiting close to the center and on the edges of the galaxy. Things move faster when the gravity is stronger... Even a system of stars and planets. It looks like a drain in your bathtub. The physics are different, but things go faster as they get closer to the drain. Things go faster as they get closer to the black hole.

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