What happened to Vsauce

Black holes: Goodbye in the gravitational monster

It is every astronaut's nightmare: to fall in the depths of space into a black hole from which there is no escape. Its gravity is so strong that not even light can escape it. But how would an astronaut experience falling into such a gravitational monster? And what could his colleagues, who stayed at a safe distance, perceive of this event?

Interestingly, the participants would report very different things - this is due to the extreme distortion of space and time that black holes cause. The US video blogger Michael Stevens presents all these connections in an almost eleven-minute clip on his popular YouTube channel "Vsauce" in an entertaining and scientifically accurate manner. Many of the animations and visualizations that supplement Stevens' explanations are the work of cosmologists and correspond to them State of scientific knowledge.

In principle, the film demonstrates, any object can be turned into a black hole through extreme compression. That is true - in our universe, however, gravity can only become large enough in the case of very massive stars that they actually end up as black holes at the end of their lives.

But what exactly happens there? When the fuel for nuclear fusion is used up, one could add Stevens' explanations, and in the center of the star the atomic nuclei of the light elements such as hydrogen and helium have all fused to form iron and other heavy elements, the density and pressure rise to huge values.

This eventually leads to the gravitational collapse of the star center - so it contracts into a black hole. This releases enormous amounts of energy that tear the star apart in a supernova. At the same time, the interior of the star disappears behind the veil of the event horizon - that border around a black hole which, once crossed, neither light nor matter can ever pass in the opposite direction again.

The outer shell of the celestial body, on the other hand, races away at high speed. Over the next millions of years, it may be able to condense the interstellar plasma - light ionized particles - in some places strong enough that new stars and planetary systems are formed. Our solar system and we ourselves are partly made up of heavy elements that are the products of earlier star explosions.