ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Origin and Evolution of Black Holes

Updated on November 28, 2013
One way we can detect black holes is by observing one near a star.
One way we can detect black holes is by observing one near a star.
Super massive black holes effect surrounding space around them. Stars nearby will orbit at high velocity.
Super massive black holes effect surrounding space around them. Stars nearby will orbit at high velocity.

What causes black holes?

Black holes are the end result of gravitational collapse when there is insufficient energy to keep matter from falling into a singularity and then outside of the known laws of physics for this universe. This can happen because atoms are mostly empty space. If you could condense the atoms in your body so that there was no space between sub-atomic particles, you would collapse into and object so small, not even someone using a scanning electron microscope would be able to see you. This is one of the principle ideas behind the formation of black holes, but there are certain limits that must be overcome before this can actually happen. Black holes have a few origins according to cosmologists. The usual cause is when a massive star about three times the mass of the sun expends its fuel and collapses dramatically during a supernova explosion-implosion event. Cosmology tells us that during the beginning moments of the cosmos, many black holes of all sizes including mini black holes were formed in the primordial density of the early fireball of the big bang event. Not all cosmologists accept the big bang as the beginning of the universe. The third cause is when two neutron stars merge.

Every star in the cosmos exists in a state of delicate balance between total gravitational collapse into a singularity and pressure exerted by electrostatic repulsion and energy created as a result of fusion that tends to explosion. As a star condenses from a dark nebular cloud into a compact rotating object, the force of gravity helps to condense it to the point where temperatures and pressures are high enough to cause fusion of simple hydrogen into helium 3 and helium 4. In the process, the condensing plasma is kept from collapsing further due to the repulsion of positively charged nucleons and the generation of gamma radiation due to the matter and anti-matter annihilation of electrons and positrons that are the by product of fusion. Stars come in all sizes and have different fates. A star will not collapse beyond certain thresholds provided the energy can be derived from fusion of low mass elements and isotopes into more massive ones.

Red dwarfs will glow for a long time as they fuse elements slowly. They are expected to burn for hundreds of billions of years. As mass of stars increase, so does the rate of fusion. Life expectancy on the other hand decreases with mass increase in an inverse proportion. Stars that can fuse elements like carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, neon but not beyond will end as white dwarfs. They will slough off mass during various flashes when fusion exhausts each supply of more massive nucleons in turn. Our sun is in this category. It will not become a black hole or even a neutron star. The sun will end as a white dwarf and be stopped at the Carbon stage above the Chandrasekhar Limit, which is the stage of electron pressure when a core collapses into a neutron star. Thus these types of stars end as white dwarfs because the core is less than 1.1 solar masses.

Stars that can fuse nucleons into iron have a different fate. They have cores that are more massive than 1.1 solar masses and can fuse elements by a complex process up to iron. If the core is between 1.1 to 3 solar masses, the collapse will end in a neutron star when electrons fuse with protons to create neutrons at he Chandrasekhar limit. Before this, these stars evolve into layered objects with successively lighter elements toward the surface (excluding turbulence). When all possible fusion reactions have converted the core to iron, a catastrophe results. The core shrinks dramatically. The overlying regions collapse and bounce off the iron core and create an enormous outpouring of energy the results in a super-nova. As a result, the core collapses into a "neutron" that is five to fifteen kilometers in diameter and glows with extreme brightness. The star losses 90 percent of its mass, leaving only a naked super hot "neutron" core behind.

Any star over three solar masses has the fate of becoming a black hole. Once gravity becomes too great for even he known laws of physics to support, then the core shrinks to the Schwarzschild radius, which is related to the gravitational constant and the speed of light. Simply put, gravity becomes so intense, not even light can achieve escape velocity; hence the term black hole. Once the core shrinks down below the Schwarzschild radius to a singularity according to theory, a phenomenon called the event horizon at the Schwarzschild radius becomes the boundary between the laws of physics as we see them on this side and a different reality inside that exists in a state outside of our known laws. Everything that approaches the event horizon is transformed, by being torn to atoms, sub-atomic particles and then once absorbed into the event horizon, disappears from our cosmos never again to be retrieved by ordinary processes within the laws of our known physics. This of course does not take into account Hawking radiation.

Black holes that originate from such implosions are small and will feed on anything venturing too close. They are also spinning at an extreme rate, even faster than millisecond pulsars. Due to contraction or the original spinning core, the rate of spin increases dramatically. This fact has been proven with observation of millisecond pulsars; neutron stars that are the remnants of less massive stars. It follows by extension that black holes also have a spin and are rotating even faster due to their more compact size. As a result, they create an oblate form and something called an ergosphere, which is an extension of the event horizon, oblate in form and intersecting the event horizon at the spin axis. In the equatorial region there is intense frame dragging as space-time is distorted. This is a region of intense energy creation as atoms are torn apart, releasing copious amounts of gamma radiation.

There is some debate as to what occurs at the event horizon. Both in falling matter and energy falls to the singularity (in the non rotating case, which is an ideal) or the ring singularity in the case of the spinning black hole or a Kerr black hole, due to conditions of time slowing, matter and energy virtually comes to a halt once inside the event horizon according to theory. Since we cannot venture inside such an object, we don’t really know. We do know that a smaller black hole is more dangerous to approach than a billion solar mass black hole as the intense gravity is more spread out. Thus, if conditions were right, we may be able to approach a billion solar mass black hole more successfully than one that is only a few city blocks in diameter.

If matter and energy are nothing more than constructs of vibrations and empty space, then a black hole is the ultimate demise of matter and energy as a singularity, a point of infinite smallness, infinite temperature and infinite density. It becomes an issue of absolute relativity. There is much that we still don’t actually know.

References and Further reading

Hawking, Stephen (1988), A Brief History of Time , Bantam Books, Inc, ISBN 0-553-38016-8 .

Hawking, Stephen & Penrose, Roger (1996), The Nature of Space and Time , Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-03791-2,

Pickover, Clifford (1998), Black Holes: A Traveler's Guide , Wiley, John & Sons, Inc, ISBN 0-471-19704-1 .


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      8 years ago

      you saved our A in physics, thank you very much!!

    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 

      9 years ago from Jaipur


      Thanks for writing such a nice hub. This is self explaining.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thank you very much for providing this resource, it really helped me on a project I wrote about black holes.

    • profile image

      Xavier Terri 

      10 years ago

      Black holes are the result of believing that bodies move by gravitational geodesic. The first and second array element of the Schwarzschild metric are the mathematical inverse of each other. But if they were equal, then, even independently of the possible zeros and infinite, light cones never be closed. There would be no event horizons or black holes.

      Connected theory, the only alternative to Einstein's general relativity, is the solution to the problems of theoretical physics today. See

      Xavier Terri


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)