We know now that black holes exist and aren’t just a product of science fiction novels and imaginations, but the debate on these marvels of the universe stretches back more than a century. Famed scientist Albert Einstein discounted their existence, but when technology became more innovative and advanced, scientists had to admit there was something going on out there that needed to be explained.
In the ‘60s, knowledge of black holes began to be more understood. They were gas-fed, supermassive sections of space that were vacuums that were even more mysterious than ever once they were recognized. Now, research has shown that a supermassive black hole may have had a hand in the evolution of humanity, and studies of these phenomena are on the rise.
What is a Black Hole?
By definition, a black hole is a part of space that has so much gravity pulling at it that nothing can escape, not even light. The gravity in this place is as strong as it is because a lot of matter exists in a tiny area, like when a star is in the process of dying. Without any light around it, black holes are invisible, but they can be seen with space telescopes that have specialized instruments attached. These telescopes look for stars surrounding the area of a predicted black hole, watching for the way these stars act as opposed to others.
A black hole can be immense or as small as an atom. Even the smallest black holes, however, have a lot of mass, so much so that it can compare to the mass of a mountain range. But stellar black holes can have a mass up to 20 times greater than the entire mass of a sun. Scientists predict that our galaxy alone has many of these stellar black holes.
As massive as they are, stellar black holes aren’t the largest ones that exist in the universe. Some black holes can have a mass greater than one million suns put together. These are called supermassive black holes, and there is evidence that every large galaxy has a supermassive black hole at the center of it. In the Milky Way, our supermassive black hole is the Sagittarius A and has a mass that is comparable to four million suns.
Computers and Their Role in Our Knowledge About Space
Now that we know of this supermassive black hole’s existence in our “little” galaxy, researchers have been working incessantly to figure out what the implications of this giant vacuum could become. Knowledge about the origins of black holes has helped us fill in a lot of gaps. The smallest, atom-sized black holes may have formed at the beginning of the universe, but stellar black holes occur when a big star collapses. The center then falls in on itself, creating a supernova of star bits that are blasted into space.
Supermassive black holes, on the other hand, are theorized to have been made when the galaxy they exist in was created.
Computers help us to see these invisible places in space. The stars and gas around a black hole acts differently, orbiting around the area because of the strong pull of gravity. The closer a black hole and a star are to each other, the more high-energy light is made. This light is invisible to us, but satellites and telescopes can see it. With decades of technology showing us how the galaxy has advanced, scientists now believe that our supermassive black hole has impacted life on our planet.
Evidence on a Supermassive Black Hole’s Role in Evolution
Water is a necessary part of life for every living creature. But our galaxy seems to be one of the only ones we’ve explored so far that has an abundance of this liquid. Why us, and not one of the other countless galaxies in the universe? The answer could be in Sagittarius A.
Supermassive black holes end up consuming the galactic gas and dust that was once in their place. When they do, a lot of radiation is emitted, called AGN, or active galactic nuclei. The AGN x-rays take the electrons out of atoms that were once neutral, speeding up the creation of molecules that become organic, creating life. The longer the supermassive black hole emits the AGN irradiation, the more water is formed, until too many x-rays are exposed, thereby decreasing the water. Sagittarius A must have released the “just right” amount of x-rays for our planet to have the abundance of water that it does, thus beginning the evolution of life as we know it and humanity as it is today.