Black Hole

This picture made the front page of the New York Times this morning. It is not very often that a science experiment makes the headlines in a great newspaper, particularly above the fold. It is a thrilling discovery. “The First Image of a Black Hole.”

The concept of black holes, hundred years old, came out of Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity equations. Gravity, the primary force in the universe depends upon mass and distance. If enough matter is squeezed together tightly enough then any light emitted by the object will not be able to escape. All light and all matter will stay in this black hole.

This black hole in the center of the galaxy M87 was captured by a unique array of telescopes two years ago. Most galaxies have black holes at their center. This one in M87 is larger than the black hole in our own galaxy, The Milky Way. The black hole in M87 is nearly the diameter of our solar system and has is several billion times more massive than our sun.

  1. To begin to get some idea about the size of this black hole, I suggest you go to the Solar System Lab and explore the size of this black hole and the size of our sun.
  2. If the black hole is the size of our solar system, can you build a model that will calculate the number of suns it would take to make it.
    Make a new table of black hole data like the Solar System table.

  3. How far away are we from the M87 black hole compared with our distance to the sun?