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The main characteristics Charbonneau and other astronomers are looking for in these exoplanets are liquid water and atmospheric oxygen, ingredients that are essential for supporting life. Two large telescopes could help us narrow our search for life soon, Charbonneau said. The Giant Magellan Telescope in Chile will be one of the biggest telescopes to focus its sight on analyzing exoplanets, and NASA is launching the James Webb space telescope in , which is essentially like a giant version of the Hubble telescope.

It will be able to look at exoplanets clearly without the interference of our atmosphere. Some astronomers argue that if there is intelligent life somewhere in the universe, it will take at least 1, years to make contact because of the vastness of space.

Can Black Holes Transport You to Other Worlds? | Live Science

You would see a lot of oxygen. And you know oxygen is very reactive, and that would be surprising. Email address is optional. This is because black holes actually bend space itself , and so could bring points that are ordinarily distant from each other much closer together. An oft-used analogy is the bending of a piece of paper. If you draw a line on the paper, it follows the paper's shape and the line's length is unchanged by bending the paper.

But if you go through the paper, the end points of the line are much closer to one another.

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Understanding this requires diving into Einstein's theory of relativity as applied to gravity. It's important to understand that a black hole is not empty space, but rather a place where an enormous amount of matter is shoved into a teensy, tiny area, called a singularity.


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In fact, the singularity is infinitely small and dense. There's actually some debate among scientists on this point, but more on that in a minute. As one moves closer to the black hole, the escape velocity — the speed needed to escape the black hole's gravity — goes up. Since nothing can go faster than light , that means nothing can escape a black hole.

But there's a loophole: A black hole doesn't suck up everything around it, like a vacuum cleaner or a bathtub drain. Its power extends only as far as the black hole's event horizon, whose radius is the distance from the center of a black hole beyond which nothing can get out. That radius gets bigger as more matter falls into the dense beast. Perhaps it's better to think of a back hole as a ball whose surface allows matter to pass inside, but never the other way.

What's inside that surface is one of the biggest mysteries in astrophysics. Remember that most scientists think a black hole is a singularity.

Other Worlds

All the matter from whatever originally supplied the black hole's mass a star, for example gets crushed into a point that has infinite density. If you were to fall into a black hole , the usual description of such an event says that you would first get stretched into spaghetti by tidal forces, then crushed into nothingness.

Your matter would then add to the radius of the black hole's event horizon. Eventually you'd be emitted as Hawking radiation. Physicist Stephen Hawking's calculations showed that black holes give off photons. Black holes eventually evaporate, but you would be waiting around a long time for that to happen. The universe is about 14 billion years old, or 1.

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There's some debate in the scientific community about how long it takes for a black hole to evaporate, because the Hawking radiation doesn't preserve any information about the stuff that fell into the black hole in the first place; but the fact remains that being emitted as radiation is still not good. There might be a better way out of a black hole, though: Gravity bends space. Think of a sumo wrestler rolling on a mat, indenting the mat with his weight. Any object creates a local "gravity well. A planet, for example, has a gravity well, but as you go toward the center of a planetary sphere, the well flattens out.

Using the mat analogy, any normal object would have a well shaped like a depression with a finite depth. Black holes don't behave like normal objects … perhaps fortunate for the trapped individual.


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  7. The curvature of space just keeps going up and up until you reach the singularity at the center of the black hole, where that curvature is infinite. Instead of a depression, you just have a hole whose sides get steeper as you go toward the center, until they are basically vertical and space is shaped like an infinitely stretched dimple.