BLACK HOLES Mike Carey Scientists have been trying to determine if black holes (earlier known as `frozen stars ) truly do exist for several decades now. Thanks to the great Albert Einstein and his theory of relativity, researchers have been able to predict the cosmic phenomenon of black holes. A black hole is basically an area of space that has an unbelievably high area of concentrated mass for the space it occupies, making it impossible for an object to escape its gravitational pull. This is due to escape velocity; the velocity required to exit an object s gravitational pull (The Earth s escape velocity is 11.2 km/s). Because black holes are so dense and massive the gravitational pull they possess captures light itself, making it impossible to ever escape a black hole (for nothing as of yet is faster than the speed of light). Although the idea of light being trapped in such a dense object dates back to Laplaze in the 18th century, it wasn t until Einstein developed general relativity that Karl Schwarzschild derived a mathematical solution to describe such an object. This lead to further work by great minds such as Oppenheimer, Volkoff and Snyder who supported the idea that such objects could exist in the universe. Their research led them to believe that when a massive star runs out of fuel and is no longer able to support itself against its own gravitational pull that it will collapse into itself to form a black hole. Something that black holes possess due to the fact that their massiveness distorts space and time making obsolete usual rules of geometry are `event horizons . These can be considered the perimeter of black holes as it marks the boundary line where the escape velocity is equal to the speed of light. Anything inside the event horizon will be unable to escape the powerful gravitational pull of the black hole s center. It is said to be quite easy to pass the event horizon since the spherical surface is moving outward at the speed of light, making impossible to escape unless traveling at greater speed than light. Within the last several years, scientists have confirmed the existence of a super massive black hole in galaxy M87. Thanks to the new enhanced optics installed in the Hubble, they have been able to look with much greater clarity and accuracy across the galaxy. For several decades, scientist have been monitoring incredibly high streams of radio and other electromagnetic energy emitted by the black hole. They theorize that this is characteristic of energy being released by gas falling into the black hole. With the Hubble s corrected optics, scientists have been able to clearly resolve the gigantic swirling gas disk (the event horizon), which extends 500 light-years from the hole s center. They have also been able to determine that the closer to the center they monitor, the faster the disk spins (up to 1 million miles per hour about 50 million light- years away from the center). This was a large proof of the black hole s existence for nothing else could generate the massive gravitational force required to accelerate the disk. Scientists would love to see the dark region at the center which is the hole itself, but no telescopic image would have the magnifying powers to see with that accuracy over such a great distance. After the first true acknowledgment of the existence of black holes, scientists predict that they are much like dinosaur fossils; patiently awaiting our discovery among the cosmos. Since then there have been several others detected at the star of Cygnus X-1, Galaxies M31 and M32 and also the Sombrero galaxy, all much smaller and only a few times the mass the sun. The true discovery of black holes opens the door to new and unimaginable possibilities that we have yet to conceive. Perhaps one day we will be able to travel the universe ourselves for these discoveries rather than peering through a telescope from Earth. The truth remains that we are coming closer to understanding the mysteries of the universe and of the cosmos that have plagued mankind since our existence.