How Black Holes Form?
What Does Blackhole Consist of?
What would happen to you if you fell into a black hole?
The experience of time is different around black holes, from the outside, you seem to slow down as you approach the event horizon, as time passes slower for you. At some point, you would appear to freeze in time, slowly turn red, and disappear. While from your perspective, you can watch the rest of the universe in fast forward, kind of like seeing into the future.
Right now, we don’t know what happens next, but we think it could be one of two things:
One, you die a quick death. A black hole curves space so much, that once you cross the event horizon, there is only one possible direction. you can take this – literally – inside the event horizon, you can only go in one direction. The mass of a black hole is so concentrated, at some point, even tiny distances of a few centimeters would mean that gravity acts with millions of times more force on different parts of your body. Your cells get torn apart, as your body stretches more and more until you are a hot stream of plasma, one atom wide.
Two, you die a very quick death. Very soon after you cross the event horizon, you would hit a firewall and be terminated in an instant.
Either of these options is particularly pleasant. How soon you would die depends on the mass of the black hole. A smaller black hole would kill you before you even enter its event horizon, while you probably could travel inside a supersize massive black hole for quite a while. As a rule of thumb, the further away from the singularity, you are, the longer you live.
Size of Blackhole
Black holes come in different sizes. There are stellar mass black holes, with a few times the mass of the sun, and the diameter of an asteroid. And then there are the supermassive black holes, which are found at the heart of every galaxy, and have been feeding for billions of years. Currently, the largest supermassive black hole known is S5 0014+81. 40 billion times the mass of our sun. It is 236.7 billion kilometers in diameter, which is 47 times the distance from the sun to Pluto.
As powerful as black holes are, they will eventually evaporate through a process called Hawking radiation. To understand how this works, we have to look at empty space. Empty space is not really empty but filled with virtual particles popping into existence and annihilating each other again. When this happens right on the edge of a black hole, one of the virtual particles will be drawn into the black hole, and the other will escape and become a real particle. So the black hole is losing energy.
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What is a Dyson Sphere? Should we Build it?
The idea of Dyson spheres has captured our imaginations. Vast megastructures, capable of harvesting the power the output of entire stars, the as yet inexplicable Kepler Space Telescope observation of swarms of somethings partially eclipsing a distant star has led to some rampant speculation.
Today we ask, are Dyson spheres plausible? And are they inevitable?
In 1960, astrophysicist Freeman Dyson proposed that a sufficiently advanced civilization would have such extreme real estate and energy requirements that they might build artificial habitats in the form of vast shells surrounding their parent star. Such Dyson spheres would be possible targets for our search for extraterrestrial intelligence, appearing only as strange points of infrared lights but otherwise black at visible wavelengths.
We don’t really know how the energy requirements of advanced civilizations evolve. It may be that their most natural progression does not require cosmic levels of consumption. On the other hand, securing access to an entire star’s energy output officially elevates a civilization to type 2 on the Kardashev scale. We’re currently type 0. So obviously it would be nice to unlock the achievement.
Let’s assume that access to 10 to the power of 26 watts is desirable. Are Dyson spheres the way to go? The plausibility of a solid sphere the size of a planetary orbit is not really in question. They are not plausible. The incredible stresses on a solar structure that size is vastly greater than could be sustained by any known or yet imagined material. Even if a super advanced material with enough strength was discovered, you’d need impossibly large quantities, much more than there is non-hydrogen or helium matter in all of the planets in the solar system. The sphere would not be habitable, having only a tiny gravitational pull at its surface, and that would be towards the sun. And finally, it would be hopelessly unstable. Any small bump would cause one side to fall into the sun. Some of these issues could be dealt with. But in the end, it’s just not an efficient way to start your galactic empire.
So do we ditch Dyson’s original idea in our quest to reach type 2? Not so fast. It’s not feasible to build a giant solar sphere. But collecting the entire output of our home star may still be the smart choice. In fact, we can get around all of the issues I just described with a simple adjustment. Instead of building a Dyson sphere, build a Dyson swarm, individual solar collectors that are only kilometers or less in diameter and each with its own independent stable orbit around the sun. Build enough of these, and you can read the entire sun in all directions, absorbing its entire energy output.
The crazy thing about the Dyson swarm is that we could probably start building one in the not too distant future. In fact, we could get started on the first collector pretty much right away. The thing that makes it seem a crazy prospect is a sheer scope. We’d have to disassemble entire planets for the raw materials alone. But believe it or not, there is a plan. It was proposed by Stuart Armstrong, AI expert and futurist. The idea is to cannibalize the planet Mercury. And that’s just to begin the swarm.
Mercury is ideal because it has a gigantic solid iron core, comprising over 40% of the planet’s mass. Combine that with the abundant oxygen in its crust, and we can make hematite, a naturally occurring, highly reflective iron oxide that has been used for millennia as primitive mirrors. So each of the swarms collectors would then be a giant polished hematite mirror, perhaps a kilometer across, but as thin as tinfoil. It would reflect light into a small solar power plant that would then beam energy somewhere useful, perhaps with a laser or a maser.
The other nice thing about Mercury is that its gravity is low enough that launching mined raw material into space for construction is pretty efficient. Building the first collector would be the slowest. We start with limited mining, space launch, and orbital construction facilities, all of it autonomous.
Energy supply is the big limiting factor at the start, so it takes about 10 years to build the first collector. But once it’s complete, we have orders of magnitude more available power. We use it to power replicator robots, building new mining and manufacturing facilities, as well as replaceable replicators. It’s an exponential process. Every new collector increases the energy available to build more collectors. Within 70 years, we have a partial Dyson swarm, and Mercury is nothing more than a debris field. To fully encompass the sun, we’d probably need to devour Venus, Mars, and a good number of asteroids and outer solar system moons, too, assuming we want to leave Earth intact. Let’s assume that. Sound over the top? It’s totally nuts. But it’s likely doable.
Autonomy in manufacturing, mining, and transportation are all progressing exponentially. Engineers are in the serious planning phases for all sorts of space-based assembly projects, including 3D printing of giant telescope mirrors. Real companies are gearing up to do autonomous asteroid mining, perhaps within a couple of decades. And all of this is without considering nanorobotics, which could change the game entirely. Frankly, there’s no obvious deal breaker here. Once complete, the Dyson swarm would harvest a good fraction of the sun’s energy, so trillions of times the current energy output of the planet. What we then do with that energy is another matter.
But is the Dyson swarm really the best path to type 2 status? Would other civilizations have gone that route, casting very conspicuous shadows on their home stars for us to detect? The advantage of using sunlight is that the sun is already making it. However, in terms of power efficiency, it’s not all that great. Only 0.7% of the rest mass of the ongoing hydrogen fuel at the sun’s core is converted to energy. Also, we need a megastructure to harvest it, with a raw material requirement close to that of all the terrestrial planets in the solar system. Is there a better way? Maybe.
What if instead of converting 0.7% of fuel rest mass into energy we could achieve 100% efficiency? Anti-matter engines do this. But currently, it takes more energy to create the anti-matter fuel than we get back out. Perhaps we can do better there, but there are also other options, for example, black hole engines. Energy can be harvested from a black hole, either from the Hawking radiation, from heat generated from an infalling material, or by extracting angular momentum from the black hole’s spin. We talked about one example, the Kugelblitz. Tapping the Hawking radiation from an artificial black hole is appealing because once formed, we could perhaps sustain it from evaporation by feeding it with new matter. This is really 100% efficient conversion of mass into energy, assuming we can find a way to pump new matter into the proton-sized Kugelblitz against the tide of Hawking radiation. And we only need 1 billion Kugelblitzes to equal the sun’s output. That’s nothing, compared to the hundreds of quadrillion solar collectors in a full Dyson swarm.
Added benefits. We get to keep Venus and Mars. And also Kugelblitz and other 100% efficient mass converters are indefinitely scalable. The Dyson sphere/swarm can absorb at most the entire energy output of the sun. However, there’s enough mass in the solar system to run a type 3 civilization’s Kugelblitz swarm for many times the current age of the universe. Of course, the trick is making the black holes in the first place. To make an industry standard, 600 million kilogram Kugelblitz, it takes something like 10% of the sun’s energy output each second, focused into a single attometer at a single instant. But wait. That’s the power we get from even a partial Dyson swarm. So there’s something to do with the swarm’s energy.
Burn through Mercury. Then use that partial Dyson swarm’s energy to build Kugelblitzes, in orbit, say, around Jupiter. Type 3, here we come. Maybe this is why we don’t see Dyson swarms all through the galaxy. Aliens build partial swarms to provide the energy to build more efficient engines, which would be essentially undetectable. Or they try building their first Kugelblitz, and it goes very, very badly. Either way, Fermi paradox solved. Admittedly, the fading that the Kepler Space Telescope observed in Tabby’s star is sort of consistent with a partial swarm. I guess it couldn’t hurt to point some radio telescopes, to look for power leakage from the Kugelblitz swarm. But no. It’s never aliens unless every other explanation is exhausted.
Source: Space Time
The Most Mysterious Star in the Universe – KIC
Mysterious Star (KIC)
- Type one is to build a ring of orbiting structures around the star that collect light and wirelessly transfer the energy back to the home planet.
- Type two is to build a bubble of satellites around the star that absorbs a good percentage of the light, but not all of it.
- Type three is to completely swallow the star with a solid shell of matter that absorbs 100% of the energy and light that the star produces. If a sphere like this was built around the Sun with a radius of one au, the spheres surface area would be 550 million times the surface area of Earth, and it would produce a ridiculous 384.6 Yottawatts of energy, about 33 trillion times the entire energy consumption of all of humanity in 1998
Also Read: What is a Dyson Sphere? Should we Build it?
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