• Question: what's the difference between wormholes and black holes?

    Asked by 269furk22 to Chris, Joanne, Kathryn, Kieran, Sarah on 14 Nov 2017.
    • Photo: Chris Werner

      Chris Werner answered on 14 Nov 2017:

      Fab question! Brilliant, and it deserves an in depth answer. A wormhole is basically a shortcut through space using a higher dimension, cutting what might be billions of light years to more manageable distances. Its unclear whether they actually exist however as we’ve never observed one! Best way to describe a wormhole is using a sheet of paper. Get an A4 sheet and imagine its a universe (2 dimensional!), then poke holes in either end of it using a pencil. Then bring the two holes together so your pencil fits through them. That’s a basic wormhole. I mention higher dimension, as beings from a 2D universe only have width and length and cannot comprehend something coming out of their piece of paper, because you’ve bended the piece of paper in the 3rd dimension, thats using the higher dimension. Its not easy for us to comprehend higher dimensions in a 2D universe.

      A black hole is the remnant of a dead star, whose core has been crushed to a microscopic point as a result of a supernova explosion. That is as dangerous a thing as you can get in space, as nothing can escape its gravitational pull, not even light, hence the term black hole. That point of no return is known as the event horizon, beyond which we see nothing! It stretches space time to near breaking point and time moves slower the closer an object it to it. If you were parked near a black hole, it may take days from our point of view for you to raise your hand to say bye as you plummet into oblivion!

      Watch Christopher Nolan’s Insterstellar, as it has both black holes and wormholes in it. The ending is a bit odd but it gives you a general idea! Hope that answers your question!

    • Photo: Sarah Guerin

      Sarah Guerin answered on 14 Nov 2017:

      Wormholes are like portals- they are passages through space time that would act like shortcuts through the universe. They are really unstable and would emit a lot of radiation. Wormholes were predicted by Einstein, but we have no experimental evidence that they exist yet.

      For black holes I will quote NASA- A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light can not get out. The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space. This can happen when a star is dying.

      Because no light can get out, people can’t see black holes. They are invisible. Space telescopes with special tools can help find black holes. The special tools can see how stars that are very close to black holes act differently than other stars.