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Black Holes Encyclopedia
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FAQ

Can anything ever escape from a black hole?

Nothing that falls into a black hole can come back out again -- at least not in its original form. But a black hole may lose some of its mass. Quantum theory says that "virtual pairs" of particles sometimes wink into existence from the fabric of space itself. These particles quickly cancel each other out and vanish. But if a pair of particles appear just outside a black hole's horizon, one may fall inside, never to make it outside again. If the one on the outside doesn't fall through the horizon, then the particles can't cancel each other out. In essence, that "steals" a little bit of mass from a black hole. Over countless billions of billions of billions of years, the mass loss could become substantial enough to cause the black hole to vaporize. Material would come out, but not in its original form -- only as energy and subatomic particles. This energy is known as Hawking radiation in honor of Stephen Hawking, the physicist who first described it.

Other FAQs

What is a black hole?

Do black holes really exist?

Are any black holes close to Earth?

Will our Sun become a black hole?

What is the biggest black hole?

What happens when you get close to a black hole?

How does a black hole form?

Are black holes 'doorways' to other parts of the universe?

How many black holes are there?

How can a black hole's own gravity, but not light, escape from it?

Where did the name 'black hole' come from?

How are black holes named?

Will our universe become a black hole?

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