Spaghettification

Primordial Tales, Chirag Sagare ( SEDS-VIT)

Have you ever imagined what it would feel like to fall into a BLACK HOLE?

You would die the most gruesome of deaths, but what would happen as you die?

There are several ways to die… suicide, homicide, electrocution, genocide, suffocation, starvation etc. Let’s add another word to our vocabulary of deaths… SPAGHETTIFICATION, that’s the theoretical manner in which you will die if you were to fall into a black hole!

According to general astrophysics, spaghettification or the noodle effect is the vertical elongation and horizontal compression of objects into extremely thin shapes (more or less like strings of wool or say spaghetti). It is caused by extreme tidal forces as a result of astronomical changes in gravity over very short distances. In the most supreme of cases, in the close vicinity of black holes, the stretching is so powerful that no materialistic object can withstand the gravitational pull, no matter how strong its components and how rigid its composition, not even other black holes. Within a very small region, the horizontal compression balances the vertical stretching so that minuscule objects being spaghettified, experience no net change in volume, and when we say minuscule, we delve into the molecular level of matter.

Consider a fictional astronaut “ASTRO” who is approaching a black hole’s event horizon adamant to die in the most spectacular way. As ASTRO reaches a point where the tidal forces start getting stronger exponentially with each subsequent passing fermi-meter, the point being a radially outward distance from the centre of the black hole, known as the Schwarzschild radius, he will be “stretched like spaghetti” by the gravitational gradient (difference in strength per unit distance traversed) from toe to the head. The physics behind this phenomenon would be the gravity exerted by the singularity being much stronger at one end of ASTRO’s body from the other. If ASTRO were to fall into a black hole foot first, the gravity at his feet would be much stronger than at his head, causing him to be vertically stretched. Simultaneously the right side of his body will be pulled to the left, and the left side to the right, horizontally compressing ASTRO into a nice little noodle except of course if his spacesuit was made of “INDISTRUCTANIUM” or such material which could resist spaghettification at the atomic level, in such conditions where even space-time let alone light does not stand a choice.

*P. S: JUST NOT POSSIBLE*

So basically, if you happen to pass by a black hole and say (un)fortunately fall into it, your body would be compressed and stretched to such an extent that you would be transformed into a single undulating string of spaghetti (atomic noodles) the thickness of which will be even lesser than the Higgs-boson! There remains much speculation as to how near to the singularity can one approach safely without being spaghettified; the theoretical physics of which goes in-depth into the nature of black holes.

So, if you are planning an apocalyptic space adventure aiming to terrorize the horizon of a black hole, be sure to wear those indestructible suits or be ready to get spaghettified to singularity itself!!!

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SEDS-VIT

SEDS-VIT

The official blog of SEDS VIT, Indian headquarters of the global NPO, Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.