Planet Talk

Black Holes

As part of my Astrophysics Club at school, I began researching black holes and became deeply intrigued. Here is a quick rundown of what I learned!

Image of Sagittarius A

WHAT ARE THEY?: A black hole is a region of space that is so strong that nothing can escape, including particles or even light. Essentially, it is a great amount of matter packed into a small space. Black holes are formed from the remnants of a large star that die in a supernova explosion. In this explosion, a small, dense core is left behind. If the mass of this core is greater than 3 solar masses, it can be officially classified as a black hole.

TYPES OF BLACK HOLES: There are a variety of types of black holes, most of which are categorized by mass. The largest type of black hole is a supermassive black hole, ranging from several million to several billion solar masses. This is followed by intermediate mass and micro black holes, which can be as small as a dozen solar masses. Another type of black hole is the Schwarzschild type, which has neither electric charge nor angular momentum, making it rather unique.

PARTS OF A BLACK HOLE: A black hole has several noteworthy parts. The singularity of a black hole is its “heart” or its core, where all of the matter resides. Moving outwards, you can find the event horizon, the outer limit of the region, and the point within which nothing can escape. Beyond this lies the accretion disk, a material-filled elliptical structure. Objects within the accretion disk lose energy and angular momentum as they slowly spiral inward. Although those are the main parts of a black hole, there are a few others, including the photon sphere, ergosphere, and relativistic jet. A photon sphere is a domain in which photons, particles of light, are forced to orbit. The ergosphere is located just outside the event horizon. Lastly, the relativistic jet is a “jet” of radiation and particles.

parts of a black hole

RECENT UPDATES: Recently, astronomers have found a hot gas bubble spinning at “mind-blowing” speeds around the Milky Way black hole. The black hole residing in the Milky Way is known as Sagittarius A, a supermassive black hole 27,000 light years from Earth. As of last week, scientists have spotted a burst of energy that sent a hot bubble of gas swirling around this black hole. This bubble, known as a hot spot, is moving extremely fast and holds an orbit similar to Mercury’s around the sun. This detection is significant because it is hoped to provide insight into how black holes work.

For a demonstration on black holes, feel free to check out these interesting, interactive websites:,


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