Saturday, September 1, 2012

Black holes: Escape Velocities and Gravity's Dominion over the Universe

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A blue supergiant is the hottest star in the universe and is the size of 60 million Earths, but even this giant can't escape even the smallest black hole

A black hole is in the center
of the yellow light
A black hole. The most powerful known force in the entire universe, although some still wonder if they still exist in the way we all think (that is, a hole or dense energy mass). Imagine it, an ultra-dense pit of collapsed star matter and energy that's so dense it has truly disproportionate gravitational fields for its size, though it all adds up, we think too often that bigger is heavier, but size and mass are not always equivalent. Some black holes are said to be the size of golf balls but have more gravity than the Sun. In my previous article called "Sol," I noted that the escape velocity for our Sun was 1,381,756 mph due to its massive gravity. If a probe landed on the Sun, it'd need to go that fast simply to nullify (g0) the Sun's gravitational pull on itself, and therefore, be able to leave without hindrance. And yet, even for the smallest black holes, not even light can escape.
The Event Horizon by definition is the theoretical boundary surrounding a black hole, within which gravitational attraction is so great that nothing, not even radiation, can escape because the escape velocity is greater than the speed of light. It's more aptly nicknamed "the point of no return," since anything which gets this close, even light, will never escape, and even though photons have no mass, they become trapped as well. Even at the exact speed of light- 670,616,629.3843951 mph, nothing at all could escape the event horizon, let alone the center, called the singularity. And yet a small black hole many times smaller (size) than Earth would easily generate far more gravity than many Suns.
According to Einstein's theories on 'relativity,' no object with mass (physical) can exceed the speed of light since light photons are massless yet cannot exceed that speed, Astronomers see beams of light bend and inevitably circle around into the event horizon, disappearing forever. No one knows what is underneath this border, but astronomers feel it's fairly safe to assume that all particles and atoms are mushed flat, where atoms are broken apart into their corresponding particles due to the immense force.
The point is, as the name of the article says so astutely, the escape velocity of the event horizon is faster than the speed of light, but how can that be possible?
Gravity becomes so immense
that space-time warps around it
First order of things is to settle the common question, "Do black holes exist?" How do we see them? Well, thankfully we can indirectly see them, for when a black hole gobbles something up, sometimes the energies accelerate to super-speeds under the forces of gravity and can ignite volatile atoms quite violently. Gamma rays are the best way to spot black holes since they travel at nearly the speed of light and explode quite terribly, releasing tremendously bright light. This explosion of gas and cosmic radiation appear as swirls around high gravity object like neutron stars and black holes, where jets of gases appear as vivid colors in various wavelengths of energy (light spectrum). Gamma ray emissions are the big chiefs since they collide into other atoms at 99% light speed, which produces amazing light that we can spot even thousands of light years away!
In this illustration, the black hole is visible by seeing the gases and rock be devoured, which all super-heat due to the gravity and speed. This is how scientists spot black holes in real life, indirectly, since no light can escape, therefore, they are invisible when directly observed

But still, the question can the escape velocity for any object far exceed the maximum speed of the universe? Einstein said that anything which exceeds light speed would travel backward in time, which would make a black hole itself more powerful than space, time, speed, and all forces (like explosions), where not even objects with zero mass (light) can escape even when traveling at the maximum speed of the universe. This just seems lacking in my mind. The universe is far too balanced to have any single force be so colossally overpowered.
Even if the most powerful black hole's escape velocity only exceeded the speed of light by even a single mile per hour, it might be possible to infer that black holes are timeless objects, since anything that exceeds light speed travels backward in time, essentially escaping time itself.
This appears to go against the laws of relativity, however Einstein did mention that the only way to overcome light speed and the effects of time is by the manipulation of conditions, or rather the use of "special conditions." (This is where warp theory and wormholes come into sci-fi, silliness!)
Space itself bends like a
basketball on a blanket
Let's use a small hypothetical scenario that assumes a black hole is a "special condition" to be manipulated into causing the laws of speed in the universe to be surpassed-- if a a beam of light cannot escape a black hole because it needs to go just 1 mph faster than light speed but then actually does go 1 mph faster due to the power of gravity, how would that scenario fit the laws of relativity under this special condition? (The question was huge, sorry.) In my mind, the law of maximum speed would not be universal if any one thing could violate it at any point in its existence, which might call the entire law itself into question; either for revision or to be tossed away altogether. Now let's say that the law of maximum speed still applies because of this special condition violating it rather than merely due to the existence of the condition at all. This would make gravity the dominant power in the universe and not the law, where laws are often rewritten by its authors, but obeyed by its subjects. Therefore gravity would not encroach upon this law's own violation, but rather be an indirect affection of light's maximum speed since gravity itself is simply the affection of objects of mass between each other. This means that the light beam never overcame its own maximum speed, but that the speed would be temporarily overridden. Just because a car's max speed is clearly 120 mph doesn't mean it cannot exceed that speed, say, going down a steep hill while already going top speed. This is the special condition, for how often do kings obey their own laws?
I think of this because when our probe Helios 2 traveled to within 27 million miles of the Sun in 1976, its speed increased to about 4.5x its maximum (from 35,000 mph to 157,000 mph) and it was still 27 million miles away from the Sun. How much more so for a massless photon already traveling at 670,616,629 mph into a black hole? Keep in mind though, that light speed is still not nearly fast enough to escape just the event horizon, let alone the singularity. Therefore, if gravity can overcome the laws of space, time and speed, and have limitless attraction potential, what about objects with large mass approaching it? (How sad for them!) This is why I think that gravity is the king of the universe, and most astronomers agree completely. Gravity is so colossally overpowering that many astronomers and theorists believe that it could even be a type of special condition for better methods of traveling across space. perhaps enabling us to fold space-time and shrink vast distance to nothing more than walking through a doorway. This is where wormholes and warp field theories come into play. Or perhaps we could use gravity to exceed the speed light and of time, and thus live forever, being timeless objects of limitless speed potential. It's already proven that outer space slows the human aging process due to decreased gravitational forces, just as it has been proven that mega-velocities actually are the same as time travel.
All light, radiation, rays, gases, matter and energy are devoured effortlessly even
at near light speed (0.99c)
Cosmic rays cannot escape
Perhaps, instead of building a star ship that ignites energetic atoms for forceful propulsion, should we instead create a ship that warps space? Nothing crazy like artificial singularities though. However, even using gravity to bend space a little like Earth does is enough to greatly reduce distances between objects in space. Earth itself has a high enough gravity that time is experienced in a faster capacity for all objects (life forms) within due to the speed at which an object orbits the planet along with gravity. All humans on Earth are continually accelerating toward the center of the planet at 32 ft/s2. And from an observer's perspective, a person will live many years longer traveling at high velocities in a high gravity area (relatively, that is.) This is the power of gravity, but don't forget speed as well, since they both affect each other and some effects become multiplied when both are present. I don't want to bring up nonsense like manufactured black holes, as these are not required to achieve this useful special condition since no laws are actually being violated or bent (and belong in the sci-fi closet with warp field theory.) What I'm talking about tends to fall more into the realm of realistic gravitational attractions and other possible forces that could be harnessed if properly studied and mastered. Just like how speed on Earth causes weightlessness once the object overcomes Earth's escape velocity, so too can gravity be useful to many ends of overcoming other forces, even though it itself is not a force but has limitless power potential. (Note: For those who are word-sticklers, gravitational "forces" is a bit of a misnomer, since there is no actual force but an attraction, which sometimes seems like force since it can be so destructive or so completely impossible to overcome or escape. The word is used only to show power, since these attraction "forces" are truly immeasurable.)
At the same time, however, gravity is both the weakest force and most powerful force in the universe. It is felt everywhere at all times, but it has neither a true zero nor any discernible maximum. Amazing! It cannot be fully dispelled and neither does it have a maximum. It's in all places at all times both in terrible strength in some places and true weakness in other places, but is still everywhere at all times.
Light is being bent around this black hole from thousands of light years away, called Gravitational Lensing. This is one way we see black holes-- light and energies all bend violently around the edges. Even when not trapped, the trajectory of nearby light still bends greatly due to the gravity. Other less fortunate trapped energies swirl inside, however, glowing hotly as they pick up speed
The specks are doomed!
Here's some more of why I think the way I do. On the left is a picture of a black hole devouring millions of stars and thousands of entire galaxies. These stars are all the size of millions of Earths, ranging around 10-70 million Earth masses, where not even neutron stars, pulsars, quasars, nebulae and supergiants can escape the gravity of the black hole in the red center.
A supermassive black hole is around a few million to a few billion solar masses. Let's pretend we're looking at one that's 5 billion solar masses (really big but not nearly the biggest). Now if an object needs to go approximately 1,381,756 mph to escape the gravity of the Sun due to its large mass-- you can simply multiply that by 5 billion, since black holes are measured in solar masses. This means an object would need to go at least 6,908,780,000,000,000 mph, which equals over 10,300,000 x 670,616,629.3843951 mph (light speed), and that's simply to escape its event horizon-- not the singularity. The math for this is pretty impossible to calculate seeing how astronomy has a long way to go til it understands black holes, but even if my calculations are off by 90%, that still leaves behind a necessary 10% x 1,381,756 mph = 138,175.6 mph x 5,000,000,000 solar masses = 690,878,000,000,000 mph just to escape the event horizon. That's still 1,000,000x light speed! Not even a Star Trek ship could escape that at maximum warp (warp 9.2 is 1.11 trillion mph vs. 690 trillion mph!)
Truly amazing, isn't it? So while achieving a true form of zero gravity means true nonexistence, just as high gravity crushes existence as we know it, this means that gravity is a very flexible force, perhaps the only constant force in the universe. For while absolute zero (-459.67°F) means that not even a single atom is moving, the atom is still there. That atom still exists, albeit in a frozen state of existence, it still exists. True zero gravity means that not even cold would exist. That frozen atom...gone...doesn't exist. This is because...
"Gravity is one of four known fundamental forces of nature. Note that gravity is by far the weakest of the four [forces], yet it dominates on the scale of large space objects. As Newton showed, the attractive gravity between any two masses gets less and less as the distance between them gets greater, but it never quite reaches zero. Therefore every particle in the entire universe actually attracts every other particle. Gravity is a long-range force in contrast to the strong and weak forces. Magnetic and electric forces are also long-range, but gravity is unique in being both long-range, and always attractive, thus never cancelling out (unlike electromagnetism, where the forces may either attract or repel),"

Gravity never cancels out, never reaches zero, it affects all existence regardless of mass, and has no discernible maximum, unlike speed (c), and cold (absolute zero), and mass/distance (cannot exceed size/length of universe). It is on this basis that I even believe that gravity could be harnessed for our own use. Just as we can generate gravity by generating artificial centrifugal forces, what if we used the limitless power of gravity to overcome the speed of light and time itself?

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