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Black Holes Encyclopedia

Popular Movies Featuring a Black Hole

 

Star Trek (2009)

Star TrekAmong massive pyrotechnic displays, the Romulans drill a hole into the core of the planet Vulcan, drop in some magic "red matter," and the planet is suddenly transformed into a planet-size black hole. Later, Spock returns the favor, sprinkling red matter into a Romulan ship that collapses to form its own black hole.

The Science

Even for a technologically advanced society like the Romulans, it's not possible to create a black hole by just dropping some unnamed form of matter in the middle of a planet (or a starship). (And how would you contain the mysterious "red" matter without having it turn whatever surrounds it into a black hole?) The only way to do it would be to crush the existing planet to infinite density, which would make it about the size of a ball bearing, not the size of a planet. And the laws of physics would be fighting you all the way, heating the infalling material and blowing it back out instead of allowing it to plunge into the black hole. There's a reason you need the mass and gravitational pull of a supermassive star to create a black hole!

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

Star Trek: The Motion PictureA mysterious cloud as big as a moon begins destroying ships and planets across the galaxy. When the newly refitted U.S.S. Enterprise heads out to investigate, it finds that the cloud contains an entire machine-based civilization. At its center is Voyager 6, an ancient American probe that had vanished into a black hole. The probe had exited another black hole, where it was found by the machines. They patched it up and allowed it to lead them to Earth.

The Science

Ain't happenin'. Nothing that enters a black hole comes back out again.

Many science fiction writers have used a theoretical construct called a wormhole as a shortcut between two widely separated locations in space. A wormhole would consist of two singularities, like the gravitational point at the center of a black hole. The theory says that if you step through one, you step out through the other, even though it might be many light-years away. The problem with using wormholes as a transport mechanism is that as soon as you (or any form of matter or energy) enters the wormhole, it collapses. So even if you could go in, you couldn't come back out.

Supernova (2001)

SupernovaSupernova echoes and improves upon the search-and-rescue plot of The Black Hole, pitting an all-star cast (including James Spader, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Angela Bassett) against the gravitational pull of a star about to go supernova. As the universe's most violent explosion, supernovae can leave behind stellar remnants called neutron stars, and in certain case, black holes. Special effects include shots of another star accreting onto the black hole and the passage of the rescue ship passing through a wormhole.

The Black Hole (1979)

The Black HoleHovering near the edge of an enormous black hole, the sole survivor of a long-lost spaceship intends to test the limits of physics--and audience patience. When the crew of an exploratory spaceship attempts a rescue, will the mad Dr. Reinhardt take them with him instead? Disney's 1979 space thriller tries to capitalize on public fascination with the recently coined term "black hole," but gets mired in the vortex of subpar dialog and special effects instead.