BBC Science Focus Magazine – March 2023
English | 93 pages | pdf | 203.39 MB
Welcome to BBC Science Focus Magazine March 2023 Issue
Spaghettification. It’s the term that describes what would happen if you fell feet-first into a black hole. You’d be stretched out and squeezed in at the same time, quickly turning you into something that resembles a human noodle. This happens because the difference in the strength of gravity between your feet and your head as you approach the black hole is so great. Its pull would be enough to yank your ankles out away from you, and its pressure would push your sides inwards, turning your body into the sort of shape you’d expect to find in a bowl of bolognese. Thankfully, it hasn’t happened to a human yet (as far as we know), but we have seen it happen to stars as they get dragged into the all-consuming maw of a black hole.
Why mention this grisly process? Well, because it’s a fact that epitomises
why we find black holes so fascinating. They’re unreal, to the point of being cartoonish. Everything we learn about them seems to defy logic. They crush entire galaxies to an infinitely small point. They slow time down the nearer you get to them. And despite their reputation for being insatiable agents of destruction, they happily sit at the heart of most galaxies, which suggests they might be involved in their creation.
And here’s a new one: it might be possible for a black hole to be fully satiated. The very biggest of them – the ultramassive black holes – might not be the bottomless pits that we think. What’s more, these ultramassive black holes could already be out there, enjoying a completely invisible retirement after having eaten their fill. To find out more, head to magazine page 52.
Daniel Bennett, Editor