Black holes are usually thought of as “cosmic vacuum cleaners” that just suck up everything around them: however, they have more interesting inner lives and can cause huge explosions. They burst in various ways, both destroying themselves and blowing up everything around them.
An article published in Live Science by astrophysicist and popularizer Paul M. Sutter, professor and researcher at Stony Brook University and the Flatiron Institute in New York, in the United States, clarifies a transcendental point about the black holes: can they explode? How do they do that? Apparently, they have many ways of exploding and are not “sleeping” cosmic giants. as is popularly believed: on the contrary, they are in permanent change and convulsion.
The black holes they are incredibly massive objects: they are so big that not even light can escape from them. Basically, they occupy regions of space within which there is a mass concentration high enough to generate a large gravitational field. Therefore, no particle can escape its attraction, including the untamed light.
Even supermassive black holes, with masses on the order of millions or tens of billions of solar masses, dominate the centers of galaxies and apparently play a crucial role in their dynamics. However, and beyond their role in many of the most important cosmological theories, science still has many unanswered questions about the enigmatic black holes.
small radiation leaks
According to Sutter, there is a way that black holes can explode. The process behind this is related to a condition discovered by the famous astrophysicist Stephen Hawking in 1976. For classical physics nothing can get out of the black hole: however, Hawking discovered that with quantum mechanics the black hole slowly filters its energy to infinityby emitting low-energy radiation.
This process, called hawking radiation, causes smaller black holes to “evaporate & rdquor; quickly. As a black hole gets smaller and smaller, it emits more radiation into its surroundings. In the last moments of its life, the black hole emits so much radiation and at such an extreme rate that it effectively acts like a bomb, releasing a torrent of high-energy particles and radiation, and eventually exploding.
In that sense, various theories maintain that if small black holes, approximately the size of the Earth, were formed in the early Universe, it is likely that these “primordial” black holes are exploding throughout the cosmos at this time. To date, astronomers have not found any evidence of the explosion of primordial black holesbut it is a phenomenon that could be verified at some point with new astronomical observation technologies.
A “black hole bomb”
On another note, Sutter explained that black holes can also explode due to their spinning behavior. The spinning black holes they create an area around them, called the ergosphere. It is an elongated region of space where nothing can remain still. Anything that falls towards the spinning black hole will begin to orbit around it.
The spinning space-time around a black hole can also attract photons, which in turn sometimes fall into the black hole, where they gain energy. They can then disperse to a higher orbit, only to fall back later. With each repetition of the mechanism, the photon gains energy, in a process called “superradiation”. If the photon is eventually released, it will have an enormous amount of energy, compared to when it first fell into the black hole.
With enough photons involved in the process, they can all explode at once and create a massive release of energy, becoming what is known as a “black hole bomb”. Although the black hole itself does not explode as with Hawking radiation, this superradiant effect can noticeably affect its surroundings.