2018 is going to be the year when, for the first time, we’ll observe a black hole

Even before their existence was known, humankind has held an unusual fascination with black holes. In 1916, Karl Schwarzchild discovered the first modern solution of general relativity which would characterize a black hole; its interpretation as an expanse of space in which nothing can escape, however, was first conceptualized by David Finkelstein in 1958.

Although we have known about the incredible objects for decades, our enthrallment in black holes has ceased to diminish. This fact, however, is not a surprise. Black holes are places where an excessive mass has gathered in such a minuscule volume that individual matter particles are unable to remain as they would ordinarily do so. Encapsulating this spectacle is a region known as the event horizon- a sphere-like area from inside which nothing can escape, not even light. One could say that black holes are truly attractive. We are aware of three ways to form black holes, and evidence has been discovered for thousands of years. Despite all our discoveries, we’ve never witnessed a black hole’s event horizon, nor have been able to confirm that one has happened before.

In spite of all this, evidence points to the need of such an entity to explain some of our universe’s phenomena. For instance, it is known that the more mass something has, the higher the force of gravity it possesses. On Earth, this means that things such as Newton’s apples fall in the general direction of the Earth’s center. However, this also means that everything else in the universe has a say in the gravitational pull of the object. Although unseeable, the mass of Newton, his house, and even something as far away as Pluto would have had an impact on the fruit. However, due to the mass and proximity of the Earth as compared to these other entities, the apple appeared to the unaided eye as moving straight down.

For now, there are a few known ways that black holes can be created. They can be a result of a massive star collapsing, two neutron stars merging, or if a cloud of gas undergoes direct collapse. Then, the start to devour mass, and as they do so they become larger and larger, and hopefully one day they will become big enough to see from Earth. At that point, we can only hope that it is so far away, or we might be able to see what lies inside a black hole if it sucks up the Earth!