So what is this black hole? Astrophysicists, (AstroP's), say: "It's a puncture in space-time. Think of space time as the rubber surface of a trampoline, and a black hole as a bowling ball placed on that surface. The ball causes the fabric to sag, so that smaller objects fall into the hole." (Since black holes create bottomless pits, Astro Ps don't know where matter that falls into them winds up.)
How do black holes get formed? Astro Ps say when stars exhaust their fuel, the star's huge mass collapses. The star explodes in a new bright star. If the remnants are as massive as our sun, the star collapses with such force that nothing can stop it. It will swallow everything including light.
The late physicist Stephen Hawking said, "It's like going over Niagara Falls in a canoe--if you are above the falls, you can get away if you paddle fast enough, but once you are over the edge, you are lost. There's no way back."
According to Astro Ps, there are billions of black holes. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, contains as many as 400 billion stars. That could mean 400 million black holes--about one star out of every thousand can create a black hole after it dies. The Milky Way has a huge black hole called Sagittarius A, with "4 million times the sun's mass crammed into a space that is about 30 times the diameter of the sun." I can't picture something that massive, but here's photos of Sagittarius A.
At the University of London, Astro Ps are saying they need to invent new physics. Some think a black hole represents a shortcut to another region of our universe, and figure black holes lead to other universes. Others think the Big Bang that created our universe might represent a black hole from another universe. Hawking said, "This might be possible--the hole would need to be large, and if it was rotating, it might have a passage to another universe. But you couldn't come back to our universe. So, although I'm keen on spaceflight, I'm not going to try that."
Leading Astrophysicist Ethan Siegal says, "Fears about our planet being eaten by a black hole are completely irrational. The world is safe."
My blog's based on an article in The Week Magazine and sources I used to clarify words and concepts. I've decided, just now, that I'm not going to let myself wonder about all this anymore--Cern guys, theorists, and Astro Ps are going to be figuring it out. I enjoy standing on the roof of my house in New York City. There are no stars, just lights from other buildings and glittering flashes from the streets below that are interesting, actually quite fascinating to think about.