SOFIA Begins Fourth Year of Observations Targeting Asteroids and More

NASA’s “flying” telescope, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) aboard a highly modified Boeing 747SP jetliner, began its fourth series of science flights on Feb. 3, 2016.

This operational period, known as “Cycle 4,” is a one-year-long observing period in which SOFIA is scheduled for 106 flights between now and the end of January 2017.

NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA)
NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) takes off from Palmdale, California at sunset. SOFIA is a partnership of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
Credits: NASA / Greg Perryman

“The Cycle 4 program will make more than 550 hours of observations,” said Pamela Marcum, NASA’s SOFIA Project Scientist. “We’ll be studying objects spanning the full gamut of astronomical topics including planets, moons, asteroids and comets in our solar system; star and planet formation; extrasolar planets and the evolution of planetary systems; the interstellar medium and interstellar chemistry; the nucleus of the Milky Way galaxy, and nearby normal and active galaxies.”

SOFIA’s instruments observe infrared energy – one part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which includes visible light, x-rays, radio waves and others. Many objects in space, for example newborn stars, emit almost all their energy at infrared wavelengths and are undetectable when observed in ordinary visible light. In other cases, clouds of gas and dust in space block visible light objects but allow infrared energy to reach Earth. In both situations, the celestial objects of interest can only be studied using infrared facilities like SOFIA.

“During the February third flight, the target objects ranged from a young planetary system around the naked-eye star Vega, only 25 light years from us, to an infant star 1,500 light years away in the Orion star forming region,” said Erick Young, SOFIA’s Science Mission Operations Director, describing the science conducted on Cycle 4’s inaugural flight. “We also observed a supermassive black hole hidden behind dense dust clouds in the center of a galaxy 170 million light years away.”

Scientists from the University of Georgia, University of Arizona, University of Texas at San Antonio, and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, plus their collaborators from institutions in the United States and Europe, obtained data using the Faint Object Infrared Camera for the SOFIA Telescope (FORCAST) mounted on SOFIA’s telescope for imaging and spectroscopic observations during the flight.

Later in Cycle 4, the SOFIA observatory is scheduled to deploy to the Southern Hemisphere for seven weeks in June and July 2016, with 24 science flights planned from a base at Christchurch, New Zealand. There, scientists will have the opportunity to observe areas of interest such as the Galactic Center and other parts of the Milky Way that are not visible or difficult to observe from the Northern Hemisphere.

The far-infrared High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera-plus (HAWC+) will be added to SOFIA’s suite of seven cameras, spectrometers, and high-speed photometers during the latter part of Cycle 4. HAWC+’s optics, state-of-the-art detector arrays, and upgradability will permit a broad range of important astrophysical investigations, including the unique and powerful capability of mapping magnetic fields in molecular clouds.

SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, manages the SOFIA program. The aircraft is based at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center’s facility in Palmdale, California. NASA Ames manages the SOFIA science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at the University of Stuttgart.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Nicholas A. Veronico
SOFIA Science Center, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Feb. 22, 2016
Editor: Yvonne Gibbs

Small Asteroid to Pass Close to Earth March 5, 2016

A small asteroid that two years ago flew past Earth at a comfortable distance of about 1.3 million miles (2 million kilometers) will safely fly by our planet again in a few weeks, though this time it may be much closer.

During the upcoming March 5 flyby, asteroid 2013 TX68 could fly past Earth as far out as 9 million miles (14 million kilometers) or as close as 11,000 miles (17,000 kilometers). The variation in possible closest approach distances is due to the wide range of possible trajectories for this object, since it was tracked for only a short time after discovery.

Scientists at NASA’s Center for NEO Studies (CNEOS) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, have determined there is no possibility that this object could impact Earth during the flyby next month. But they have identified an extremely remote chance that this small asteroid could impact on Sep. 28, 2017, with odds of no more than 1-in-250-million. Flybys in 2046 and 2097 have an even lower probability of impact.

“The possibilities of collision on any of the three future flyby dates are far too small to be of any real concern,” said Paul Chodas, manager of CNEOS. “I fully expect any future observations to reduce the probability even more.”

Asteroid 2013 TX68 is estimated to be about 100 feet (30 meters) in diameter. By comparison, the asteroid that broke up in the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia, three years ago was approximately 65 feet (20 meters) wide. If an asteroid the size of 2013 TX68 were to enter Earth’s atmosphere, it would likely produce an air burst with about twice the energy of the Chelyabinsk event.

The asteroid was discovered by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey on Oct. 6, 2013, as it approached Earth on the nighttime side. After three days of tracking, the asteroid passed into the daytime sky and could no longer be observed. Because it was not tracked for very long, scientists cannot predict its precise orbit around the sun, but they do know that it cannot impact Earth during its flyby next month.

“This asteroid’s orbit is quite uncertain, and it will be hard to predict where to look for it,” said Chodas. “There is a chance that the asteroid will be picked up by our asteroid search telescopes when it safely flies past us next month, providing us with data to more precisely define its orbit around the sun.”
For regular updates on passing asteroids, NASA has a list of the next five close approaches to Earth; it links to the CNEOS website with a complete list of recent and upcoming close approaches, as well as all other data on the orbits of known NEOs, so scientists and members of the media and public can track information on known objects.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
DC Agle
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
Editor: Tony Greicius

What Is NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission?

NASA is developing a first-ever robotic mission to visit a large near-Earth asteroid, collect a multi-ton boulder from its surface, and redirect it into a stable orbit around the moon. Once it’s there, astronauts will explore it and return with samples in the 2020s. This Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) is part of NASA’s plan to advance the new technologies and spaceflight experience needed for a human mission to the Martian system in the 2030s.

NASA has identified multiple candidate asteroids and continues the search for one that could be redirected to near the moon in the 2020s. Since the announcement of the Asteroid Initiative in 2013, NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observation Program has catalogued more than 1,000 new near-Earth asteroids discovered by various search teams. Of those identified so far, four could be good candidates for ARM. Scientists anticipate many more will be discovered over the next few years, and NASA will study their velocity, orbit, size and spin before deciding on the target asteroid for the ARM mission.

The Asteroid Redirect Mission is one part of NASA’s Asteroid Initiative. The initiative also includes an Asteroid Grand Challenge, designed to accelerate NASA’s efforts to locate potentially hazardous asteroids through non-traditional collaborations and partnerships. The challenge could also help identify viable candidates for ARM.

NASA plans to launch the ARM robotic spacecraft at the end of this decade. The spacecraft will capture a boulder off of a large asteroid using a robotic arm. After an asteroid mass is collected, the spacecraft will redirect it to a stable orbit around the moon called a “Distant Retrograde Orbit.” Astronauts aboard NASA’s Orion spacecraft, launched from a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, will explore the asteroid in the mid-2020s.

Asteroids are leftover materials from the solar system’s formation. Astronauts will return to Earth with far more samples than have ever been available for study, which could open new scientific discoveries about the formation of our solar system and beginning of life on Earth.

The robotic mission also will demonstrate planetary defense techniques to deflect dangerous asteroids and protect Earth if needed in the future. NASA will choose an asteroid mass for capture with a size and mass that cannot harm the Earth, because it would burn up in the atmosphere. In addition to ensuring a stable orbit, redirecting the asteroid mass to a distant retrograde orbit around the moon also will ensure it will not hit Earth.

Perhaps most importantly, NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission will greatly advance NASA’s human path to Mars, testing the capabilities needed for a crewed mission to the Red Planet in the 2030s. For more information, read “How NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission Will Help Humans Reach Mars.”

National Aeronautics and Space Administration 
Originally Posted: July 31, 2015
Page Editor: Jim Wilson
NASA Official: Brian Dunbar

Cybernetic Organism

A cyborg (short for “cybernetic organism”) is a being with both organic and biomechatronic body parts. The term was coined in 1960 by Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline.

Early Engraving of a Man Machine
Early Engraving of a Man Machine

The term cyborg is not the same thing as bionic, biorobot or android; it applies to an organism that has restored function or enhanced abilities due to the integration of some artificial component or technology that relies on some sort of feedback. While cyborgs are commonly thought of as mammals, including humans, they might also conceivably be any kind of organism. It is hypothesized that cyborg technology will form a part of postbiological evolution, in the form of transhumanism – where people are artificially enhanced beyond their original biological characteristics.[citation needed]

D. S. Halacy’s Cyborg: Evolution of the Superman in 1965 featured an introduction which spoke of a “new frontier” that was “not merely space, but more profoundly the relationship between ‘inner space’ to ‘outer space’ – a bridge…between mind and matter.” In popular culture, some cyborgs may be represented as visibly mechanical (e.g., the Cybermen in the Doctor Who franchise or The Borg from Star Trek or Darth Vader from Star Wars); as almost indistinguishable from humans (e.g., the “Human” Cylons from the re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica etc.) The 1970s television series The Six Million Dollar Man featured one of the most famous fictional cyborgs, referred to as a bionic man; the series was based upon a novel by Martin Caidin titled Cyborg. Cyborgs in fiction often play up a human contempt for over-dependence on technology, particularly when used for war, and when used in ways that seem to threaten free will. Cyborgs are also often portrayed with physical or mental abilities far exceeding a human counterpart (military forms may have inbuilt weapons, among other things).

Super Massive Blackholes

A supermassive black hole (SMBH) is the largest type of black hole, on the order of hundreds of thousands to billions of solar masses (M☉), and is found in the center of almost all massive galaxies. In the case of the Milky Way, the SMBH corresponds with the location of Sagittarius A.

Ion Ring Blackhole
Side view of black hole with transparent toroidal ring of ionised matter according to a proposed model for Sgr A. This image shows result of bending of light from behind the black hole, and it also shows the asymmetry arising by the Doppler effect from the extremely high orbital speed of the matter in the ring.

Supermassive black holes have properties that distinguish them from lower-mass classifications.

First, the average density of a supermassive black hole (defined as the mass of the black hole divided by the volume within its Schwarzschild radius) can be less than the density of water in the case of some supermassive black holes. This is because the Schwarzschild radius is directly proportional to mass, while density is inversely proportional to the volume. Since the volume of a spherical object (such as the event horizon of a non-rotating black hole) is directly proportional to the cube of the radius, the minimum density of a black hole is inversely proportional to the square of the mass, and thus higher mass black holes have lower average density. In addition, the tidal forces in the vicinity of the event horizon are significantly weaker for massive black holes.

As with density, the tidal force on a body at the event horizon is inversely proportional to the square of the mass: a person on the surface of the Earth and one at the event horizon of a 10 million M☉ black hole experience about the same tidal force between their head and feet. Unlike with stellar mass black holes, one would not experience significant tidal force until very deep into the black hole.


Black Holes Explained


Social justice warrior

Define: SJW

“Social justice warrior” (commonly abbreviated SJW) is a pejorative term for an individual promoting socially progressive views, including feminism, civil rights, multiculturalism, and identity politics. The accusation of being an SJW carries implications of pursuing personal validation rather than any deep-seated conviction and being engaged in disingenuous social justice arguments or activism to raise personal reputation, also known as virtue signaling.

The phrase originated in the late 20th century as a neutral or positive term for people engaged in social justice activism. In 2011 when the term first appeared on Twitter, it changed from a primarily positive term to an overwhelmingly negative one. During the Gamergate controversy, the negative connotation gained increased use and was particularly aimed at those espousing views adhering to social liberalism, cultural inclusiveness, or feminism, as well as views deemed to be politically correct.

The term has entered popular culture, including a parody role-playing video game released in 2014 titled Social Justice Warriors.


In Popular Culture

In May 2014, the concept was incorporated into a parody role-playing video game titled Social Justice Warriors. Developed by Nonadecimal Creative, Social Justice Warriors involved the concept of debating online against Internet trolls who make racist and other provocative comments by choosing from different responses such as “‘dismember their claims with your logic,’ rebroadcast their message to be attacked by others, or go for the personal attack.” Users were able to select a character class and gameplay involved changes to user meters of Sanity and Reputation. The game became available on the computer platform Steam in February 2015. Game creator Eric Ford explained that the game was designed to foster critical thinking and was not “intended to suggest that racist, sexist, or other offensive comments shouldn’t be confronted online. The goal is to encourage critical thinking on how it can be done more effectively, and at less cost to the real-world social justice warriors.” He commented: “Once you’ve embarked down the path of correcting every incorrect statement an anonymous stranger is making online, the only inevitable outcomes are that your patience is exhausted by frustration, your reputation is obliterated by the trolls’ defamation or your own actions, or you give up in disgust.”

Actress Caitlin Barlow described her character on the 2016 U.S. comedy television series Teachers as a social justice warrior. Barlow explained: “I play Cecilia Cannon, who is a super-crunchy hippie social justice warrior who is always trying to save the world, whether people care or not. And she’s always pushing her left-wing agenda on her students.”

The Hollywood Reporter journalists Lesley Goldberg and Kate Stanhope noted in March 2016 that actress Isabella Gomez was cast in the Netflix remake of One Day at a Time and portrayed Elena, a character content to self-identify as a social justice warrior. Goldberg and Stanhope wrote: “A proud nerd, idealist and social justice warrior, Elena is opinionated and not afraid to speak her mind.”

While promoting his film The Green Inferno, Eli Roth said “I wanted to write a movie that was about modern activism. I see that a lot of people want to care and want to help, but in general, I feel like people don’t really want to inconvenience their own lives. And I saw a lot of people just reacting to things on social media. These social justice warriors. ‘This is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong.’ And they’re just tweeting and retweeting. They’re not actually doing anything. Or you see people get involved in a cause that they don’t really know a lot about and they go crazy about it. I wanted to make a movie about kids like that.”


Examples of use in Youtube comments:

From YouTube comments


No. It’s because Sam Harris tries to explain social, economic, geopolitical issues by focusing on people’s beliefs and worldviews (their identity). He’s the ultimate “SJW”.


Harris comes across as more honest to me. Sam is always willing to put himself out there and be open to any environment of discussion. You’ll never see Chomsky do a four-hour podcast with Joe Rogan for example. Chomsky comes across as an arrogant SJW at times. Sam comes across as a guy you could have a beer with and enjoy the stimulating conversation of an honest thinker. Whereas Chomsky comes across as the guy who would snub you and any conversation you had with him would leave you with the impression that he was a biased thinker.


Despite what your average SJW or Black Matter Lives affiliate might argue, Muslim imperialism existed way before the birth of the US. They conquered half of the known world and ethnic cleansed it. They tried to push into Europe twice in the Middle Age and it’s for sheer luck that today Europe doesn’t speak Arabic. Had Islam conquered Europe, there wouldn’t be an America to speak of, and no ignorant arrogant assholes like the Chomskians to criticize it either.

Dawkins a bit too blunt for Brandon Flowers

Brandon Flowers of The Killers gets a bit flustered and angry with Richard Dawkins for answering a question honestly about Joseph Smith, the convicted con man and inventor of the Mormon religion.

It’s a shame when you have to deny the truth to get by.

Any replies you fake flag for spam because you don’t like them will just be approved anyway so your pathetic attempts to censor the opinions of other (however idiotic) will fail.

Black Holes Explained

https://youtu.be/e-P5IFTqB98


Transcript

1
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Black holes are one of the strangest things in existence.

2
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They don’t seem to make any sense at all.

3
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Where do they come from…

4
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…and what happens if you fall into one?

5
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Stars are incredibly massive collections of mostly hydrogen atoms

6
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that collapsed from enormous gas cloud under their own gravity.

7
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In their core, nuclear fusion crushes hydrogen atoms into helium

8
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releasing a tremendous amount of energy

9
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This energy, in the form of radiation,

10
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pushes against gravity,

11
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maintaining a delicate balance between the two forces.

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As long as there is fusion in the core,

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a star remains stable enough.

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But for stars with way more mass then our own sun

15
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the heat and pressure at the core allow them to fuse heavier elements

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until they reach iron.

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Unlike all the elements that went before,

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the fusion process that creates iron

19
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doesn’t generate any energy.

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Iron builds up at the center of the star

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until it reaches a critical amount

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and the balance between radiation and gravity is suddenly broken.

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The core collapses.

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Within a fraction of a second,

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the star implodes.

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Moving at about the quarter of the speed of light,

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feeding even more mass into the core.

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It’s at this very moment that all the heavier elements in the universe are created,

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as the star dies, in a super nova explosion.

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This produces either a neutron star,

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or if the star is massive enough,

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the entire mass of the core collapses into a black hole.

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If you looked at a black hole,

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what you’d really be seeing is the event horizon.

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Anything that crosses the event horizon

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needs to be travelling faster than the speed of light to escape.

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In other words, its impossible.

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So we just see a black sphere

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reflecting nothing.

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But if the event horizon is the black part,

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what is the “hole” part of the black hole?

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The singularity.

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We’re not sure what it is exactly.

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A singularity may be indefinitely dense,

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meaning all its mass is concentrated into a single point in space,

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with no surface or volume,

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or something completely different.

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Right now, we just don’t know.

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its like a “dividing by zero”error.

50
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By the way, black holes do not suck things up like a vacuum cleaner,

51
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If we were to swap the sun for an equally massive black hole,

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nothing much would change for earth,

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except that we would freeze to death, of course.

54
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what would happen to you if you fell into a black hole?

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The experience of time is different around black holes,

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from the outside,

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you seem to slow down as you approach the event horizon,

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so time passes slower for you.

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at some point, you would appear to freeze in time,

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slowly turn red,

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and disapear.

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While from your perspective,

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you can watch the rest of the universe in fast forward,

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kind of like seeing into the future.

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Right now, we don’t know what happens next,

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but we think it could be one of two things:

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One, you die a quick death.

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A black hole curves space so much,

69
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that once you cross the event horizon,

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there is only one possible direction.

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you can take this – literally – inside the event horizon,

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you can only go in one direction.

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Its like being in a really tight alley that closes behind you after each step.

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The mass of a black hole is so concentrated,

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at some point even tiny distances of a few centimeters,

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would means that gravity acts with millions of times more force on different parts of your body.

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Your cells get torn apart,

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as your body stretches more and more,

79
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until you are a hot stream of plasma,

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one atom wide.

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Two, you die a very quick death.

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Very soon after you cross the event horizon,

83
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you would hit a firewall and be terminated in an instant.

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Neither of these options are particularly pleasant.

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How soon you would die depends on the mass of the black hole.

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A smaller black hole would kill you before you even enter its event horizon,

87
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while you probably could travel inside a super size massive black hole for quite a while.

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As a rule of thumb,

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the further away from the singularity you are,

90
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the longer you live.

91
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Black holes come in different sizes.

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There are stellar mass black holes,

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with a few times the mass of sun,

94
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and the diameter of an asteroid.

95
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And then there are the super massive black holes,

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which are found at the heart of every galaxy,

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and have been feeding for billions of years.

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Currently, the largest super massive black hole known,

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is S5 0014+81.

100
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40 billion times the mass of our sun.

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It is 236.7 billion kilometers in diameter,

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which is 47 times the distance from the sun to Pluto.

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As powerful as black holes are,

104
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they will eventually evaporate through a process called Hawking radiation.

105
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To understand how this works,

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we have to look at empty space.

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Empty space is not really empty,

108
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but filled with virtual particles popping into existence

109
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and annihilating each other again.

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When this happens right on the edge of a black hole,

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one of the virtual particles will be drawn into the black hole,

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and the other will escape and become a real particle.

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So the black hole is losing energy.

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This happens incredibly slowly at first,

115
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and gets faster as the black hole becomes smaller.

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When it arrives at the mass of a large asteroid,

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its radiating at room temperature.

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When it has the mass of a mountain,

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it radiates with about the heat of our sun.

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and in the last second of its life,

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the black hole radiates away with the energy of billions of nuclear bombs in a huge explosion.

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But this process is incredibly slow,

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The biggest black holes we know,

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might take up a googol year to evaporate.

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This is so long that when the last black hole radiates away,

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nobody will be around to witness it.

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The universe will have become uninhabitable,

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long before then.

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This is not the end of our story,

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there are loads more interesting ideas about black holes,

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we’ll explore them in part 2.

Schwarzschild radius

The Schwarzschild radius (sometimes historically referred to as the gravitational radius) is the radius of a sphere such that, if all the mass of an object were to be compressed within that sphere, the escape velocity from the surface of the sphere would equal the speed of light. An example of an object where the mass is within its Schwarzschild radius is a black hole. Once a stellar remnant collapses to or below this radius, light cannot escape and the object is no longer directly visible outside, thereby forming a black hole. It is a characteristic radius associated with every quantity of mass. The Schwarzschild radius was named after the German astronomer Karl Schwarzschild, who calculated this exact solution for the theory of general relativity in 1916.

The Schwarzschild radius is given as

{\displaystyle r_{s}={\frac {2GM}{c^{2}}}}

where G is the gravitational constant, M is the object mass and c is the speed of light.