I've been afraid of black holes since the second grade when we moved into a new house that had a black bathtub. Convinced we'd be sucked down into the dark drain, my sisters and I refused to bathe in the evil tub. Now, as an adult, it would seem we have a real black hole to worry about. Black holes are real, and they're hungry.
On March 28, scientists and astrologers witnessed something through satellite imagery that no one had ever seen before: a black hole devouring a star the size of our sun. Gulp! And when the black hole was eating that giant star, it omitted a fiery burp that was 10 billion times brighter than our sun. Double gulp! So what does this mean for us Earthlings? Should we be wearing sunglasses right now? The blast did send a giant light ray right at Earth ...
But apparently we don't have that much to worry about in terms of being harmed by the explosion. But if you ask me, we have a big problem. These black holes at the center of our universe ... uh, is anyone keeping an eye on their feeding patterns? What if it just wants a snack and happens to gobble up our sun? Yikes?
The energy caused by the March meal is still burning in the sky. Good news is that it's burning nearly 4 billion light years away. I guess that's comforting, but come on, who understands what that means. Does it mean that any expended rays of light and energy would take 4 billion light years to reach Earth? Does it mean that it happened, at this point, 4 billion light years ago? Oh geez. If someone knows anything about quantum physics, please leave your explanation in the comments.
Anyway, it's always exciting when humans see or experience something for the first time. Space, the final frontier, is our Tomorrowland, just with shorter lines and fewer turkey drumsticks. With black holes at the center of nearly every substantial galaxy, there's going to be a lot of stars being eaten and a lot of cosmic blasts that we have to look forward to. Can't wait.
Still not showering in a black tub with a black hole for a drain though. That's just common sense.
Do you think black holes are boring or kinda cool?
Photo via NASA Goddard Photo and Video/Flickr