Black holes are odd and fascinating astronomical phenomena that defy science. Black holes appear to perform strange things, such as consuming whole stars, twisting the fundamental fabric of space-time, and creating immense gravitational forces. Brian Greene, a Britannica publishing partner, tells in a video for World Science Festival that the narrative of black holes begins with the German meteorologist Karl Schwarzschild, who was also a mathematician and astronomer.
He served on the Russian front during World War I. According to Greene, Schwarzschild was there to calculate bomb trajectory. Schwarzschild learned via his calculations that when massive spherical masses collapse and are crushed into tiny sizes, the forces of gravity are so powerful that nothing in the black hole’s effect region can escape its attraction.
To understand why time slows down as an item approaches a black hole, one must first understand time dilation.
According to Live Science, Einstein was the first to recognize that time was relative. While the principles of physics remain constant throughout the cosmos, Einstein maintained that speed or motion, space, and time are not.
Einstein frequently discussed trains and how passengers on and off moving trains perceive time and speed differently. This sparked a slew of crazy experiments with clocks and atomic clocks, and the results proved Einstein correct: time is not fixed and may dilate.
To be scientifically correct, time does not vary based on where an observer is; it changes based on changes in gravity. Scientists have demonstrated these time variations by monitoring atomic clocks on the tops of buildings and the ground and on orbiting satellites, and on Earth. So, if gravity can affect time, what happens to time in the face of a black hole’s tremendous gravitational forces?
The most dramatic example of time dilation occurs when time encounters a black hole because black holes are the densest things in the universe and have the highest gravitational attraction. NASA JPL investigates black holes to better understand how space and time interact. According to the researchers, as an item approaches a black hole, the flow of time slows from the perspective of an observer observing the flow of time outside of the black hole’s impact.
According to Einstein’s general theory of relativity, time slows down around any big object due to its gravitational attraction. This is known as gravitational time dilation, and it grows exponentially near black holes.