Black Holes: The Hungriest Objects in Space! - Continued
Written for the KidsKnowIt Network by:
Gemma Lavender, MPhys, FRAS
|So how are these objects made? Do they appear out of nowhere or have they always been there? Scientists have been wondering this, too, and they think that there are two types that can be formed; a stellar-mass black hole and a supermassive black hole. Can you guess which one is bigger? That’s right! The supermassive black hole. Because one type is larger than the other, astronomers think that they also must be made in different ways.
More than a thousand black holes are seen in this image from NASA's Chandra x-ray satellite.
A stellar-mass black hole is pretty easy to remember; just imagine a black round object that is around 3 to 15 times bigger than our Sun. You might be surprised to know that this type of black hole is made when a gigantic star reaches a grand old age, causing it to explode in a very bright burst of light - so luminous that it can outshine a galaxy! Astronomers call this explosion a supernova and they happen when an old star has finished burning all of its fuel. There is often material left over from a supernova and scientists call this a stellar remnant which they think then collapses in on itself transforming into a very compact object. And there we have it - a stellar-mass black hole is made!
The second type of black hole, the supermassive black hole, is the same as 100 million Suns all squashed into one place. However, unlike its smaller cousin, astronomers are not entirely sure of how they are made - one thing they are positive of though is that there is one right in the middle of our galaxy, the Milky Way, and there could be more in the centre of other galaxies, too - our Universe really is quite an interesting place!
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