Like many other forces of nature as well as mysteries humanity has yet to explain, very little is known about black holes. Among the populace, there is much speculation about these strange anomalies. Thanks to NASA’s NuSTAR, now researchers know a little bit more about black holes. In fact, NuSTAR has found five already since its launch in 2012.
What is a black hole?
A black hole is what remains after a star that is many times bigger than our sun explodes. All the pressure that builds up from that explosion causes (what some believe to be) the core of the star, to condense into the size of a large city.
Don’t be fooled by its small size, though. Even though this core is so small, its gravitational pull is so strong, NASA says that even light cannot escape its pull.
How many black holes are there?
While it is speculated and theorized that there are a significant amount of black holes in the galaxy and universe, they are actually very difficult to find. The black holes are shrouded by dust and gases that are left over from the explosion and from everything it pulls in. And with no light emitting near the hole without getting sucked in, it is incredibly hard to find black holes. Scientists generally have to look for blank spaces where there probably should be something and estimate if there should be a black hole there.
What is this NuSTAR?
NuSTAR, or the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array is essentially a giant telescope that NASA launched into space. It uses high energy X-rays to collect data. These X-rays make it significantly easier to find black holes as it can easily penetrate through the gases and dust surrounding them. As was stated before, it has already found five. While it is indeed easier to find the black holes, scientists still need to know where to look.
What is there to be learned from black holes?
Many scientists and researchers believe that black holes will help uncover the secrets of a very illusive matter: dark matter. Dark matter is a form of matter that cannot be seen or recorded with any known type of technology. Even without being able to see it, however, scientists are sure that it is there. Unsure of what exactly it is, they have labeled it ‘dark matter’.
It was stated in the Astrophysical Journal that roughly 80% of the universe is made up of this dark matter.
Scientists hope that by learning more about black holes, they will learn more about dark matter, and in doing so, learn more about the natural order of this universe.