Q:

Can a black hole swallow the earth?

A:

Quick Answer

A black hole could swallow the earth if one got close enough, but the actual effect a black hole would have on the planet would depend on its size. Very small black holes would have little impact if they collided with the earth, but some black holes are so large they could swallow the entire solar system.

  Know More
Can a black hole swallow the earth?
Credit: Phil Plait Flickr CC-BY-2.0

Full Answer

The smallest types of black holes scientists theorize exist are called primordial black holes and were formed soon after the Big Bang. While many of these small black holes evaporated long ago, those weighing more than one billion tons could still be around. According to the New Scientist, if a black hole of that size hit the earth, it would be like a magnitude-four earthquake all around the globe. The effect would be noticeable, but it would cause little destruction.

Larger black holes can range in size from stellar black holes, which have a mass ranging from three to more than 10 times that of the sun, to supermassive black holes found in the center of galaxies. The largest known black hole has a mass equal to about 6.6 billion times that of the sun and could swallow the entire solar system if it got close enough. The likelihood of any of these larger black holes getting close enough to the earth to cause any problems, however, is extremely small.

Learn more about Stellar Astronomy

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What are black dwarf stars?

    A:

    A black dwarf star is a white dwarf star that has cooled down to the same temperature as the cosmic microwave background. The cosmic microwave background is the thermal radiation left over from the Big Bang or the temperature of the space around the star.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Where is the nearest black hole?

    A:

    As of 2010, the closest known black hole to Earth is V4641 Sgr. According to Tega Jessa of Universe Today, V4641 Sgr is located in the Sagittarius arm of the Milky Way galaxy and was first discovered in 1999. This black hole is 1600 light years from Earth.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the size of the Capella star?

    A:

    Capella is not one star but a system of four stars. The primary star, Capella Aa, is 12 times the size of the sun and has nearly three times the mass. Capella Ab is nine times the size of the sun and has slightly less mass than Capella Aa.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How long do black holes last?

    A:

    A black hole naturally lasts for billions and billions of year—many more years than the current age of the universe. The reason is that the only way a black hole can die is through a form of "evaporation," which occurs particle by particle; this is an unimaginably slow process.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore