Astronomy Case Study: What are some effects of black holes?
This case study is set up to guide you to a well-reasoned position on the odd effects that are predicted to exist in space near black holes. Use the following questions to help you develop your position. Access to an internet database or library will likely be necessary – most of the answers will not be located in your textbook.
Keep in mind, answers to some of these questions may be subjective – that is, it depends who you ask.
First, let’s look at what a black hole actually ‘is’. Some of these might be in the textbook.
1. Who first came up with the idea for black holes (also when)?
2. Who first crafted a modern look at black holes (also when)?
3. How big is a black hole in terms of relative size? What is its density?
4. How much mass can a black hole have . . .
a. what is the smallest mass possible for a black hole (theoretical only)?
b. what is the smallest mass for a normal black hole (remnant from a
c. What is the largest mass black hole?
5. What color is a black hole? Why?
Note: Escape velocity is the speed you need to attain to escape the gravitational pull of a massive object like the Earth.
6. What does the Schwarzschild radius of a black hole mean?
a. What is the Schwarzschild radius of . . . the sun?_____________ the earth? _____________
b. Why does going inside the Schwarzschild radius mean you can’t escape?
c. If you somehow made a black hole with the mass of a car (let’s say a ton), do you think it would be very dangerous to go within a few feet of it? Why or why not?
7. Is it possible to make a black hole; if so, would it be large or small?
a. Would this destroy the earth?
b. Might there be any uses you can think of for a black hole?
8. What effect does a black hole have on time as you approach it? (circle one)
a. Time as you read your watch: slowed unchanged sped up
Time as others watch you: slowed unchanged sped up
Time as you watch others: slowed unchanged sped up
b. Try to describe what scientists think causes this effect.
9. Are there any scientists who think that black holes do not exist?
10. Is it possible to see a black hole?
Do you think that black holes exist? Yes / No / Maybe
If so, do you think practical uses might be found for black holes in the future? Yes / No / Maybe
If so, do you think that the number of black holes are increasing or decreasing over time?
Increasing / Decreasing / Staying the same
Try to explain your reasoning.
If you don’t feel that black holes exist, try to explain your reasoning (there are some scientists who disagree on black holes).
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