Nasa’s simulation shows what happens if you fall into a black hole

NASA has developed a new visualization tool using its advanced supercomputer, allowing people to explore the inner workings of a black hole.

The simulation offers a detailed look at the event horizon of a supermassive black hole akin to the one at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. It is led by astrophysicist Jeremy Schnittman in collaboration with scientist Brian Powell from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Approaching the black hole from a distance of 400 million miles, viewers observe significant distortions in space-time. The surrounding accretion disk, composed of hot gas, and background stars appear warped, similar to reflections in a funhouse mirror.

A closer look

As the simulation draws closer to the black hole, the brightness of stars and the swirling gas disk intensifies, resembling the accelerating roar of a passing race car. It takes approximately three hours for the simulation to reach the event horizon.

nasa black hole

However, from an observer’s perspective, the simulation seems to slow down as it approaches the boundary, almost appearing to halt before reaching it.

Within the simulation, two potential outcomes are depicted. In one scenario, the simulated camera narrowly avoids crossing the event horizon, while in the other, it does.

If the camera crosses this boundary, it undergoes a process known as “spaghettification,” wherein gravitational forces near the black hole stretch and tear it apart in a mere 12.8 seconds as it hurtles toward the singularity — the black hole’s central point of unimaginable density.

Alternatively, if the camera orbits close to the event horizon without crossing it, time dilation occurs. While time progresses normally for the astronaut within the simulation, observers from a distance perceive time as slowing down.

This time dilation effect means that upon returning from the vicinity of the black hole, the astronaut would have aged less compared to their colleagues who remained distant from the black hole.

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