Black holes have long been a topic of debate and fascination, capturing the imagination of the public thanks in part to the late Stephen Hawking. These mysterious objects have also permeated popular culture, appearing in sci-fi magazines, Star Trek, and Hollywood blockbusters. MailOnline has compiled a list of the five most bizarre and captivating theories about black holes that are so unfathomable, the mind boggles.
The first theory involves a recent discovery in which astronomers found a black hole located in a distant galaxy that is three million times the size of the Earth. The image shows an intensely bright ‘ring of fire’, as researchers described it, surrounding a perfectly circular dark hole. The black hole consumes matter that strays too close, squeezing it into a superheated disk of glowing gas.
The second theory suggests that black holes have ‘hair’, meaning particles would consist of photons and gravitons that sit on the event horizon, the black hole’s boundary. The particles capture and store information stripped from the particles falling into the black hole, making the information difficult to decipher.
The third theory proposes that black holes emit fountains of gas. Many of these mysterious objects are surrounded by a buildup of gas and dust that circle black holes, producing an arching ring that surrounds inner columns of matter.
The fourth theory is that black holes are the source of Dark Energy, which was predicted by the Big Bang theory of the creation of the universe. A team of researchers observed ancient and dormant galaxies and found that black holes gain mass in a way that is consistent with them containing vacuum energy, or Dark Energy. In fact, the amount of Dark Energy in the universe can be accounted for by black hole vacuum energy.
The fifth theory attempts to answer the question of whether anything could survive a black hole’s gravitational pull. Researchers have suggested that there may be a way out through a wormhole at the center of the black hole, which acts as a ‘back door’. By this theory, anything traveling through the black hole would be ‘spaghettified’, or stretched to the extreme, but would be returned back to its normal size when it emerges in a different region of the universe.
Black holes are incredibly dense, with a gravitational pull so strong that not even light can escape. They act as intense sources of gravity, hoovering up dust and gas around them. Astronomers believe they may form when a large cloud of gas up to 100,000 times bigger than the sun collapses into a black hole. Many of these black hole seeds then merge to form much larger supermassive black holes, which are found at the center of every known massive galaxy.