What Happens If You Fall into a Black Hole? NASA’s Latest Simulation Explains

Why Trust Techopedia
Key Takeaways

  • NASA's new simulation offers a virtual journey into a supermassive black hole.
  • The simulation illustrates two outcomes: escaping the black hole's event horizon or being pulled in.
  • The simulation is available in various formats, including 4-minute explanatory videos and 360-degree views.

Discover the journey into a black hole with NASA’s latest simulation, showcasing what happens if one falls into this cosmic phenomenon.

One of the major questions surrounding space exploration since the first black hole, Cygnus X-1, was discovered in 1971 is what would happen if one plunges into the black hole.

NASA answered this question in a recent video simulation of a supermassive black hole in space.

Considered a remarkable stride in space exploration, this immersive visualization, created using a NASA supercomputer, offers a virtual journey into a black hole.

The simulation commences with the camera positioned nearly 400 million miles away, with the black hole dominating the view. As the journey progresses, the black hole’s disk, photon rings, and the night sky become increasingly distorted, even forming multiple images as their light traverses the increasingly warped space-time.

The final destination is a supermassive black hole, equivalent in mass to 4.3 million suns, similar to the sun at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. The event horizon of the simulated black hole spans about 16 million miles.

What Happens If You Fall Into a Black Hole

Jeremy Schnittman, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, is behind the whole project.

In the video, he simulated two distinct scenarios: one where an astronaut (represented by a camera) narrowly escapes the event horizon and is catapulted back out, and another where the astronaut crosses the boundary, leading to an inevitable end.

This phenomenon occurs due to the intense gravitational pull of a black hole, which is stronger on the side of an object closer to it compared to the far end. This differential force causes objects falling into it to stretch in noodle-like form, which astrophysicists call spaghettification.

In a NASA article, Schnittman explains that stellar-mass black holes contain up to 30 solar masses and possess smaller event horizons and stronger tidal forces. These elements explain why the black hole can rip approaching objects apart before reaching the horizon.

The simulation is available in various formats, including 4-minute-long explanatory videos that serve as tour guides, highlighting the peculiar effects of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. There are also 360-degree videos that allow viewers to look around during the journey.

This simulation marks a significant advancement in our understanding of black holes. Despite decades of study, black holes remain an enigma even to the best of astrophysicists like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Brian Cox. While this new visualization has yet to unravel some of the mysteries surrounding these cosmic entities, it has broadened our knowledge and sparked more curiosity about the vast unknown.