All I know about quarks is that they make up protons and neutrons and you can't really pull a quark pair apart, you just end up with 2 quark pairs because of all the energy you added becomes 2 new quarks.

All I know about black holes is objects falling into them are pulled apart by tidal forces as the gravity at the close end is stronger than at the far end of the object. Eventually matter is pulled into individual atoms.

So I was thinking about what happens when a quark pair falls into a black hole. Quarks have mass, so they should be affected by gravity and get pulled in. If quark pairs can be spaghettified, at some point they will pull apart generating two quark pairs instead of one. If this process were allowed to continue you'd have infinite quarks.

This is where I think I've made an error. If black holes could make infinite quarks, their mass should increase over time as gravitational energy is converted into new quarks. This extra mass should increase the black hole's gravitational force, increasing its ability to pull new matter in and to split quark pairs. If this were true black holes could gain mass even without absorbing new matter. These seem like blatant violations of conservation of mass and energy, but I don't know enough about advanced physics to figure out where I went wrong. I was hoping someone here could tell me.

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    $\begingroup$ Energy is mass, mass is energy. The gravitational pull of the black hole results from the sum of its mass and energy. Converting energy to quarks does not affect this sum. $\endgroup$ Oct 26, 2014 at 9:16
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    $\begingroup$ Just my 2 cents since I don't know how to back this up with math. Initially the 2 quarks will be confined in a hadron. The 2 quarks are spatially too close to each other to be considered a separate system, they will pretty much follow the same geodesic equations and the difference in gravitational attraction (due to their difference in spatial separation) will not be enough to pull the quarks far apart to create a new pair. As the quark pair approaches the singularity we don't know what happens to it as we don't with anything. $\endgroup$
    – PhotonBoom
    Jan 5, 2015 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ I think @PhotonicBoom is right. There's no reason to believe that the quark pair will get pulled apart. Note that the quark bonds (gluon tubes) are far more stronger than the electromagnetic forces holding molecules together. $\endgroup$
    – Ryan Unger
    Feb 18, 2015 at 23:45

2 Answers 2


As in all extrapolations, one reaches a point where they break down.

In the case of a black hole singularity and quark triplets ( neutrons and protons, pairs are quark antiquark i.e. mesons) falling into a black hole , the neutrons and protons falling in acquire energy from the gravitational energy of the black hole and at some point in energy will start interacting with each other. The strong force will produce quark-antiquark pairs i.e. mesons, and other particle antiparticle pairs. As more energy is gained by the fall, the strongly interacting mass will reach the quark gluon plasma stage :

A quark–gluon plasma (QGP) or quark soup is a phase of quantum chromodynamics (QCD) which is hypothesized to exist at extremely high temperature, density, or both temperature and density. This phase is thought to consist of asymptotically free quarks and gluons, which are several of the basic building blocks of matter. It is believed that up to a few milliseconds after the Big Bang the Universe was in a quark–gluon plasma state.

The quark gluon plasma is being currently studied in the strong interactions of ions at the LHC:

The ALICE detector at the LHC is used to study the properties of the Quark-Gluon Plasma produced in heavy-ion collisions

The energy of this plasma is the energy of the rest masses of the infalling particles plus the energy gained by the fall. No excess in the sense you think. There will be as many quarks and gluons as the logistics allows, no infinities.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for providing a detailed yet simple to understand answer. $\endgroup$
    – Deepesh S
    Mar 23 at 21:19

I would imagine that, the energy that pulls the quark pair into the black hole is intrinsic energy (ie it comes from the black hole), and the quarks created through 'spaghettification' would only be proportional to that energy pulling on them. Therefore, seeing as energy is equal to mass and vice versa this new mass would not be created, rather transformed from the energy of the black hole. The black hole never gains more mass/energy than the original quark pair because it already contained the mass/energy in its system that would be then created into more quark pairs. I hope that makes sense

  • $\begingroup$ It would then proceed to eat the quarks, and reabsorb its energy. $\endgroup$ Jul 13, 2015 at 1:25
  • $\begingroup$ It's not energy pulling the quark pairs into the black hole, it's gravity. The gravitational force can be derived from a gravitational potential energy which belongs to the system, that is the infalling matter and the black hole together. $\endgroup$
    – Yodo
    May 24, 2023 at 13:00

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