From the ‘X Files’ Dept: Could Newly Discovered Gigantic Black Holes Harbor Life?


"We hypothesize that the advanced civilizations may live safely inside the supermassive black holes in the galactic nuclei being invisible from the outside."

Vyacheslav Dokuchaev –Moscow's Institute for Nuclear Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Astronomers report that they have discovered the most gigantic black holes ever found in the universe, an abyss 10 times the size of our solar system, encompassing regions or "event horizons" about five times the distance from the sun to Pluto or about 2,500 times as massive as the black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

The biggest of of these monsters, which weighs as much as 21 billion Suns, is in an egg-shaped galaxy known as NGC 4889, the brightest galaxy in the Coma  cluster of thousands of galaxies about 335 million light-years away. The image at bottom of page shows the central region of the Coma cluster, with giant elliptical galaxies NGC 4889 and NGC 4874.

The other newly discovered beast, the equivalent of 9.7 billion Suns, is in the center of NGC 3842, a galaxy that anchors another swirl of stars known as Abell 1367, 331 million light-years away in Leo.

"These two black holes are significantly more massive than predicted," the astronomers wrote.
They said their calculations suggest that different evolutionary processes influence the growth of the largest galaxies and their black holes than in smaller galaxies. Astronomers have long suspected that since the universe began it has harboured black holes with a mass the size of the two newly found giants.

Chung-Pei Ma, led a team of University of California, Berkeley astronomers who used the Gemini and Keck observatories in Hawaii and the McDonald Observatory in Texas and outer space to weigh the black holes in the centers of galaxies by clocking the speeds of stars orbiting around them; the faster the stars are going, the more gravity — and thus mass — is needed to keep the stars from flying away. They report their work in the journal Nature, which will be published online on Wednesday.

These cosmic gluttons grow in tandem with their galaxies, slurping up gases, planets and stars.
"There is a symbiotic relationship between black holes and their galaxies that has existed since the dawn of time," Kevin Schawinski, a Yale astronomer said in a June study.

Martin Rees, a cosmologist at Cambridge University, called the new work “an incremental step,” noting that the study of these monsters has been a part of his life for a long time. “It’s good to learn about even bigger ones,” he said.

One question astronomers would like answered is how these black holes got so big, billions of times bigger than a typical dead star. Dr. Ma described it as a kind of nature-versus-nurture argument, explaining that black holes could grow by merging with other black holes as galaxies merge to get bigger — “nature” — or by swallowing gas around them — “nurture.”

“Our discovery of extremely massive black holes in the largest present-day galaxies suggests that these galaxies could be the ancient remains of voracious ancestors," said McConnell. Astronomers  think the supermassive black holes in galaxies could be the missing link between the quasars of early universe that were powered by giant black holes in gargantuan  feeding frenzies, spewing massive amounts of energy into space.

The inner workings of these supermassive black holes may be less hostile than we realize, possibly with stable regions where life and even planets could exist, according to Russian cosmologist Vyacheslav Dokuchaev at Moscow's Institute for Nuclear Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Charged and rotating black holes have a complex internal structure that allow photons and particles of much greater magnitude to safely orbit the central singularity.

Gravitational tides within the central singularity are so powerful that even light gets sucked Dokuchaev has studied the dynamics of surrounding stable periodic planetary orbits, that neither neither terminate at the central singularity nor exit the black hole, creating space for life in the spinning black hearts of the active galactic nuclei.

Dokuchaev's research demonstrates that "living inside the eternal black holes is possible in principle, if these black holes are rotating or charged and massive enough for weakening the tidal forces and radiation of gravitational waves to acceptable level." Type III advanced civilizations on the Kardashev scale that have achieved mastery of the resources of their galaxy, could inhabit such black hole interiors.

"The naked central singularity illuminates the orbiting internal planets and provides the energy supply for life supporting," he adds. "Some additional highlighting during the night time comes from eternally circulating photons."

Upon arrival at the event horizon of a black hole a theoretical observer enters a region where the radial dimension is more time-like than space-like. Beyond this is the inner Cauchy horizon where the dimensions again reverse, shifting into a plane where stable orbits for massive planets exist. The Cauchy horizon is a light-like boundary where one side of the horizon contains closed space-like geodesics and the other side contains closed time-like geodesics.

"This internal black hole domain, hidden by the two horizons from the whole external universe, is indeed a suitable place for safe inhabitation," Dokuchaev writes. "The only thing needed is to put your vehicle or your planet to a stable periodic orbit inside the black hole." To exist in this realm, any such civilizations would have to have overcome extreme conditions, such as massive tidal forces.

"Yet, some difficulties (or advantages?) of a life inside black holes are worth mentioning, such as a possible causality violation and the growing energy density in the close vicinity of the Cauchy horizon."

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Image credit: NASA/JPL


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