How I Envision Black Holes

Note: June 25, 2018: This description is now out of date.  


First, I think the terminology “black hole” and the popular mental model is poor.  I am highly skeptical of the ideas that matter and other forms of energy are destroyed in a black hole, or that they goes through a wormhole to elsewhere in the universe, or that the matter is reduced to a single point (e.g., a singularity).

The aim of this essay is to imagine a physics of black holes that does not require such exotic theories as mentioned above.

We know that intense gravity causes matter to move towards the black hole.  At a certain point, called the event horizon, there is no escaping the gravity.  Beyond that point as the matter and energy progress inward, the matter decomposes into its’ constituent molecules as chemical bonds are broken. Traveling further inward, as the molecular bonds are broken by the intense gravity, the molecules decompose into atoms.  Traveling further inward, eventually the intense gravity causes the atomic bonds to break, resulting in a dense soup of protons, neutrons, electrons, and other forms of energy. I suppose it possible this continues and the particles continue inward until the gravity causes the decomposition into sub-atomic particles of the standard model, i.e., quarks, leptons, and bosons.  So really, the black hole could consist of many concentric spherical shells, with each shell containing a different soup of particles.  Some shells may be very dense.  Other shells may be far less dense, as they are a region between two shells.

But wait, from where did all this gravity originate?  In my mental model, every particle takes up some space.  That is, to exist, the particle must displace empty space.   That displacement causes space to bend around the particle, and that bend or stress on space, causes gravity.  The denser the matter, i.e., the more particles in a small space or the more mass in a small space, the larger the stress on space, and the larger the gravity.

As mass accumulates in each shell, the overall gravitational force towards the center increases.  As the force increases, the characteristics of each shell change.

For example, for the densest black holes, the outer shells may not exist, except as ephemeral regions where particles decompose and their constituents continue inward.   Less dense black holes may not yet have formed the inner shells of the densest sub atomic particles.

I think at the densest, i.e., the sphere in the center, the matter does not collapse into a singularity because the gravitational force from the displacement of space is not strong enough to crush the most elementary particles any further.   However it is may be possible to convert mass energy into the potential energy held in the stretched space of the black hole. Now what happens when the black hole continues to absorb more and more matter?  Well, it is letting off Hawking radiation, so if it were never to absorb any more incoming energy, it would I guess dissipate over extremely long periods of time.  Another possibility, depending on the local “soup” in space, is that the black hole would exceed some limit and rupture – releasing energy in a variety of forms. Perhaps the point of rupture could even be the point at which the densest matter is converted to othe forms of energy.

Additional thoughts

  • Each shell may be spinning.  It is possible that the spin rate and angle are different for each shell.  It is possible the shell spin characteristics may be independent or dependent with each other and the overall set of shells composing the black hole.
  • The innermost shell is actually a sphere – where the particles have decomposed to the point where increased gravity causes no further decomposition.  Note that shells and the central core may be more egg shaped due to their spin.
  • It is possible that there are many many shells – for different chemicals, for different atoms, and for different sub-atomic particles.
  • We can imagine that black holes are constantly changing as they absorb more and more matter, with each shell reconfiguring itself as a function of gravity.
  • What keeps shells separate?  Well one idea is that it is physical size and density.  Density is continually increasing as matter moves inward.  If the gravitational forces on a particle are not large enough, it won’t decompose, and therefore it will “float” on the surface of the next innermost shell.
  • Shell is simply a convenient way to visualize – it could well be that there is a continuum, where the formation of matter at any radius is given as a function of gravity and total mass of the black hole.
  • We can see that by reversing the process such that a black hole is disgorging matter, could easily lead to a wide variety of elements and chemicals being produced.  However, what would cause a black hole to disgorge matter?  Is it possible that a spinning black hole could let matter escape?  colliding black holes?  exploding supermassive black holes?
  • Note that the radius of an atom is about 10,000 times larger than the radius of its’ nucleus.  The earth has a radius of 3959 miles.  If we could collapse all the atoms to the size of their nucleus and pack them more densely then the earth could fit into a sphere with a radius of 0.39 miles.  If we continue to increase gravitational force, we can compress by another factor of 10,000 as the nuclei break down into quarks, leptons, and bosons.  At that point, Earth would fit into the size of a gumball.
  • When traveling through space curved by gravity, you must follow a longer path to get from A to B, than you would if gravity was less.  This leads to differences in experienced time between a traveler and a distant observer.

This essay provides my mental model of how black holes might function.  It is not based on any scientific research or evidence.  It is simply a enthusiasts visualization.


Updated February 17, 2018

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