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Q & A: Falling into a Black Hole

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
What would happen if it were possible to reached the singulatary of a black hole?
- Doug Sluga (age 12)
Illinois,USA
A:
Doug -

Great question. It would depend a bit on the size of the black hole, but in all likelihood the main thing you would notice is that you would be stretched. This is pretty easy to understand. Suppose you were falling into the black hole feet first. The closer you are to the center, the stronger the pull of gravity would be. Since your feet are closer than your head, the force pulling your feet inward would be bigger than the force pulling your head, and it would seem to you that you were being stretched out. You would also notice the light from distant stars change color as you approached the "event horizon" of the black hole (this is the closest distance from the center of the hole that you can get and still escape).

As for what it would look like as you got near the center, many scientists believe that space twisting around would let you literally see the back of your own head! For some videos of what this might look like, check out Michigan Tech's .

The issue of what it's like once you've entered the singularity itself is still pretty up in the air. There's a lot of theories, but no one really knows for sure.

-Tamara

(published on 10/22/2007)

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