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I know that black holes are "black" because nothing can escape it due to the massive gravity, but I am wondering if there are any theories as to what happens to the light or mass that enters a black hole and cannot escape.

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  • $\begingroup$ It's not really true that the singularity is the center of a black hole. Actually it's a spacelike surface that lies in the future of every observer. $\endgroup$ – Ben Crowell Apr 9 '18 at 23:56
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It's difficult to know what happens on the other side of a black hole, since no information can cross back through the event horizon (the radius at which light and therefore any information can no longer escape). The leading idea is that near the center of every black hole lies a singularity, or a point where the density (and therefore the curvature of space-time) reaches infinity (that is, some amount of mass contained in zero volume).

Any mass which crosses the event horizon will accelerate inwards toward the singularity. When it starts to get close, it will experience tremendous tidal stress. Because the singularity contains the mass of anywhere from one supergiant star to several million of them (or possibly more) and is infinitely dense, the end of the object which is closer to the singularity will experience significantly more gravitational force than the end facing away. This will manifest itself as a gradually increasing stretching of the mass, something colloquially referred to as "spaghettification."

The falling mass will contact the singularity and become part of it in finite time in the reference frame of the mass. To an outside observer, things get a little funny due to the relativistic effects of such a strong gravitational field. Beyond the event horizon, time is essentially frozen, so to anyone watching the black hole, nothing can ever happen inside it. So if an object starts to get close to it and fall in, it will gradually slow down and turn red (the light is red-shifted) and never cross the horizon. The light will get more and more red-shifted until it is infrared, microwaves, radio waves, etc--until it essentially disappears. But you will never observe it cross the horizon. The object itself will cross the horizon normally, however it will still always look like it hasn't crossed the horizon--because all light is rushing down towards the singularity, and none can come back the other way, it will always appear that the horizon is just beyond reach. Looking the other way though, the outside world would appear extremely weird once inside the horizon.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is a good answer but I'd have to disagree with you when you state- "Because the singularity contains the mass of anywhere from one supergiant star to several million of them...". The singularities that we discuss in general relativity are not points in space-time; it’s like the hole in the topology of a manifold. Since a singularity is not even a point on the manifold assigning a mass to the singularity makes no sense... $\endgroup$ – Naveen Balaji Jul 27 '17 at 10:38
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    $\begingroup$ Interesting, thanks! FWIW I wrote this answer on another SE site before it was folded into physics.se, and only had an introductory undergrad physics education $\endgroup$ – Carson Myers Jul 28 '17 at 8:10
  • $\begingroup$ The final paragraph seems to blur the distinction between the event horizon and the singularity. The OP is asking about the singularity. $\endgroup$ – Ben Crowell Apr 9 '18 at 23:58
  • $\begingroup$ This answer contains a fatal contradiction. It says "Beyond the event horizon, time is essentially frozen, so to anyone watching the black hole, nothing can ever happen inside it". But it also says "Any mass which crosses the event horizon will accelerate inwards toward the singularity". I would therefore venture to suggest that it's wrong. However since it has most upvotes and it has been accepted, I'd be grateful if anybody can explain why it isn't wrong. @Ben Crowell : perhaps you could assist? I answered a related question of yours on this the other day. $\endgroup$ – John Duffield Apr 11 '18 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ I'm no expert but the local time of the matter falling into the black hole is different from the local time of an observer - time keeps passing (seemingly) normally for the falling reference frame, but the observer never sees them actually cross $\endgroup$ – Carson Myers Apr 12 '18 at 11:23
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I would argue that there are no theories about what happens to anything in the center of a black hole, that there are only hypothesis. But that's just a nit-pick about the wording.

Nobody knows what happens inside a black hole, but yes, lots of scientists have guessed about what might happen. The most common idea is probably the one mentioned in the other answer, that everything is pulled into a singularity, where all the energy occupies a single point at the center. A common assumption in this case is that the information in the energy is then destroyed since it is basically homogenized.

Other than that, use your imagination. Whatever you can dream up might happen to stuff in the center of a black hole, some physicist has probably thought of it and tried to determine its feasibility.

One idea that I like was presented in an article in the Scientific American magazine a year or two ago. This article suggested that perhaps a black hole isn't really hole-like at all, and it presents a hypothesis that suggests that the mass of a collapsing neutron star has enough of a push outward to stop its total collapse just before it enters what would be its own event horizon, thereby making it more of a "black star." In this case, the supposed black hole is just a lump of hyper-dense matter, similar to a neutron star but even denser.

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Simply put: we don't know. From our perspective a black hole cuts off its interior from the rest of the Universe, the only aspects of a black hole that remain are mass, charge, and spin. In truth, even barely understanding what happens inside the event horizon will depend on an understanding of quantum gravity, something which we do not yet have. And even then it will still be largely theoretical since we have no way of interacting with the interior of a black hole.

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So far only one thing is sure about the black holes: they are exist. There is something in the galactic center that does not radiate energy but stars nearby orbit it at high speeds. It must be a black hole.

But that's all we know for sure. We haven't even seen a real event horizon yet (the black disk of a black hole).

But in this year we will see a larger gas cloud approaching the central black hole. It may fall in, giving an once in a lifetime chance to observe what happens when stuff fall into a black hole.

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One theory suggests that all the matter is squashed to a tiny point where its density is so incredibly that it literally rips a hole in the spacetime. This hole creates a loop to possibly another location in the universe in any time or even in a parallel universe. This matter is sucked through the black hole to the other side of the loop hole where something called a white hole is created. There is little evidence for this as no white holes have ever been found.

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    $\begingroup$ The theory that there is a singularity at the center of a black hole is not the same theory that black holes can create wormholes. A singularity means a point of infinite curvature of space-time, not that it rips a hole in an arbitrary location elsewhere. $\endgroup$ – Carson Myers Jun 22 '11 at 20:23
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I don't believe black holes lead to a parallel universe, because A,There simply is just no proof, and B, how would "sucking" (for lack of a better term, I know they don't suck) up a star or another mass add to the mass of the black whole if it just gets ejected out a white whole on the other side of the galaxy. If you see the question I asked, I believe "sucking" up a sum of mass will just combine with the mass the black hole already has in the center, increasing the size of it's event horizon.

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  • $\begingroup$ This doesn't really seem like an answer based on any physical theory. $\endgroup$ – Ben Crowell Apr 9 '18 at 23:58
  • $\begingroup$ I'm self taught, so I don't know any theories, and by the way theories are something people think could be true, and a theorem is something that is proven. So even if I did base my answer on theories, it still might not be true. Most of the answers above are all theories. And finally, from what I know, everything I said in my answer is true. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Turczynskyj Apr 10 '18 at 0:41
  • $\begingroup$ I believe I am the only person who actually answered the question, my answer is true and I said exactly what happens to the matter after it enters the event horizon. And everyone else says they don't know if anything they said was even true, They told you to make up your own answer and said it may be true. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Turczynskyj Apr 10 '18 at 0:44
  • $\begingroup$ And if one of the answers above says you can make up your own theory, then this is MY THEORY!!! $\endgroup$ – Daniel Turczynskyj Apr 10 '18 at 12:57
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According to black hole complementarianism, from the point of view of someone entering a black hole, the event horizon is not a particularly special place in space, and they will pass it without necessarily noticing any change. There would be tidal forces, however. These are larger the smaller the black hole is, so for a small black hole, these forces would rip someone apart before reaching the event horizon, while for a larger black hole someone could travel for a while past the horizon before being ripped apart. Eventually, however, the tidal forces would exceed the forces holding molecules, and then atoms, together. The matter then travels to a singularity.

For an observer outside the black hole, however, an infalling object would never reach the event horizon; time dilation would cause it to simply asymptotically approach it. As it does so, the wavefunctions of its particles spread out, eventually covering the entire event horizon. The black hole slowly evaporates into Hawking radiation, and the matter that fell into then returns to outside the black hole.

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    $\begingroup$ According to black hole complementarianism, from the point of view of someone entering a black hole, the event horizon is not a particularly special place in space, and they will pass it without necessarily noticing any change. I assume you mean black hole complementarity. What you say has nothing to do with black hole complementarity. It's just a statement within classical relativity. The second paragraph is about the horizon, but the question is about the singularity, not the horizon. $\endgroup$ – Ben Crowell Apr 10 '18 at 0:01
  • $\begingroup$ Black hole complementarity says that the first and second paragraph are both valid perspectives on what happens. The second paragraph discusses how from an outside perspective, there is no singularity, other than the horizon. Everything that "falls into" a black hole simply gets smeared across the horizon. There is no "inside". $\endgroup$ – Acccumulation Apr 10 '18 at 14:58

protected by Qmechanic Jun 10 '14 at 5:33

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