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No black holes after all?
World Science ^ | Aug. 11, 2006 | World Science staff

Posted on 08/22/2006 12:32:31 PM PDT by NonLinear

One of the brightest and furthest known objects in the universe might not be a black hole as traditionally believed, but rather an exotic new type of object, a new study suggests. (snip)

(Excerpt) Read more at world-science.net ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events; Technical
KEYWORDS: astrophysics; blackhole; oops; relativity; science; sorry; wewerewrong; wrongagain
No black holes after all?

Aug. 11, 2006
Courtesy Harvard-Smithsonian
Center for Astrophysics
and World Science staff




One of the brightest and furthest known objects in the universe might not be a black hole as traditionally believed, but rather an exotic new type of object, a new study suggests.


An artist's image of a black hole at the center of a galaxy. The black hole itself would be hidden at the center of the disc of swirling gas, with two jets spurting in opposite directions. In new research, some astronomers claim the central object is not a black hole, but another type of object that shrinks itself at an imperceptibly slow rate, forever. (Image Courtesy NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, A. Kamajian)

And the researchers say this raises doubts as to whether other so-called black holes are really that, either.

The astronomers are elbowing aside the time-honored concept of the black hole: a large object that compacts itself, under its own gravity, to an infinitely dense point with such gravitational strength that nothing nearby can escape its grip.

Instead, the researchers are picturing a body with a definite size, and a surprising property: it gradually crams itself into a smaller space forever, but never achieves a black hole’s infinitely small size.

In the study, Rudy Schild of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. and colleagues scrutinized an object of a stupendously bright type known as a quasar.

Quasars, most astronomers agree, are the centers of far-off galaxies.

Scientists traditionally picture a quasar’s core as a disc of gas spiraling into a “supermassive” black hole, which sucks it in. The brilliance comes from the gas, which heats up as it races inward. Some of it also shoots out in two oppositely-directed jets.

Quasars appear only in the furthest reaches of the known cosmos. Astronomers reason that this is because they existed only long ago. The furthest areas are those where we see the universe as it was long ago, because it takes so long for light from those places to reach us.

Quasar-like structures also exist in the more recent, and thus nearby, universe. They persist as the “black holes” also believed to lie at the center of most galaxies. But these are dimmer than quasars. Scientists think this is because they’ve consumed much of the available gas.

Theorists have struggled to understand the workings of quasars’ jets and discs, called accretion discs. It has also been hard for observers to see the hearts of quasars, because the regions are so compact and distant.

Schild’s group studied a quasar designated Q0957+561, about 9 billion light-years away in the direction of the constellation Ursa Major. A light-year is the distance light travels in a year.



The quasar holds a central compact object weighing the equivalent of 3 to 4 billion Suns. Most scientists would call it a black hole, but Schild said his findings suggest otherwise: surprisingly, it’s magnetic, unlike a black hole.

Double vision

The researchers chose Q0957+561 because it’s associated with a so-called cosmic lens. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity holds that a galaxy’s gravity bends space nearby it. It thus also acts as a sort of lens, bending light. This results in two images of the distant quasar and magnifies its light. Stars and planets within the nearby galaxy also affect the quasar’s light, a related phenomenon called microlensing.

“With microlensing, we can discern more detail from this so-called ‘black hole’ two-thirds of the way to the edge of the visible universe than we can from the black hole at the center of the Milky Way,” our galaxy, said Schild. Schild monitored the quasar’s brightness for 20 years, along with an international consortium of observers at 14 telescopes.

The team studied the quasar’s core, pinpointing a proposed location where the jets form—something that 60 years of past research have failed to explain, Schild said.

His team calculated that the jets come from two regions each about 25 times wider than the distance between the sun and Pluto. These lie directly above the poles of the central compact object, at about 200 times the Sun-Pluto distance.

Just one proposed scenario can easily explain these locations, Schild said. The central object is magnetic, and interacts with the disc through its surrounding magnetic field. As it spins, the field winds up like a spool. Eventually it winds so tightly that it “breaks” explosively before re-forming itself in a more relaxed configuration. The breakages release energy that powers the jets.

But a black hole in an accretion disc can’t have its own magnetic field, Schild added. This is because normally, a spinning object can be magnetic only if it carries an electric charge. A black hole can’t sustain such charge, because any charged hole will immediately suck in enough oppositely-charged material to cancel out its own charge. (There are two types of electric charge, positive and negative).

Forever shrinking

The problem vanishes, Schild and colleagues argue, with the new type of compact object that they propose, called a Magnetospheric Eternally Collapsing Object, or MECO.

This body, a variant of an object whose existence was first proposed by the Indian physicist Abhas Mitra in the late 1990s, is one that not unlike a black hole, continually shrinks into an ever-smaller space.

But it never becomes a black hole. Instead, its shrinkage slows down until it becomes imperceptible, but goes on steadily—so slowly, it could go on for many times the lifetime of the universe. Unlike a black hole, a MECO also has definite size. Moreover, objects sucked in can theoretically go back out, albeit with extreme difficulty.

A MECO, essentially a dense ball of plasma, continually generates magnetic fields through surface currents, explaining the magnetism, Schild said. His team’s research appeared in the July issue of The Astronomical Journal.

It won’t be easy for the MECO theory to gain wide acceptance among scientists, astronomers say, given that black holes have been the accepted scenario since Einstein. But Mitra and a few other theorists claim black holes don’t exist at all—only Eternally Collapsing Objects.

A stringent test might soon be available to resolve the dispute. Within 10 years, astronomers say, technology will let them observe the signature feature of black holes, the “event horizon.” This is the area surrounding a black hole, within which no infalling object can ever come out.

Such observations could either confirm black holes’ existence, or raise new questions over it, if no event horizons show up where they’re expected.

For now, Schild said he’s not disputing the existence of all black holes. He’s just focusing on Q0957+561. His team wants to avoid “inflated claims,” he wrote in an email, as some critics might use this to “discredit the entire body of work.”

1 posted on 08/22/2006 12:32:32 PM PDT by NonLinear
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To: NonLinear

Such a cool link to share with my science teacher daughter. Thanks!


2 posted on 08/22/2006 12:35:12 PM PDT by YaYa123
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To: YaYa123

Darn! Another theory shot in the butt. What can one believe? If there are no black holes is there dark matter, anti-matter, worm holes, strings, .... ???? Is the speed of light a constant?? Is Elvis gone?


3 posted on 08/22/2006 12:39:47 PM PDT by Mind-numbed Robot (Not all that needs to be done, needs to be done by the government.)
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To: NonLinear

So, it's a "white hole"?.........Obviously in need of some affirmative action.............Jesse Jackson, call NASA ASAP!........


4 posted on 08/22/2006 12:39:51 PM PDT by Red Badger (Is Castro dead yet?........)
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To: NonLinear

I wish they'd stop discovering things that I don't understand.


5 posted on 08/22/2006 12:39:55 PM PDT by SJSAMPLE
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To: NonLinear

Well, this is yet another example of why I don't take hard positions with respect to cosmology or quantum physics.


6 posted on 08/22/2006 12:42:30 PM PDT by fso301
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To: YaYa123
It won’t be easy for the MECO theory to gain wide acceptance among scientists, astronomers say, given that black holes have been the accepted scenario since Einstein. But Mitra and a few other theorists claim black holes don’t exist at all—only Eternally Collapsing Objects.

Einstein's singularity theory is just that, theory, so it's one persons theory verses the theory of another.

That said, Mitra best bring lots of supporting data to the table if he plans on toppling the Giant.
7 posted on 08/22/2006 12:42:33 PM PDT by HEY4QDEMS (Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.)
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To: NonLinear
There are black holes...
They are called givernment programs.. once enacted they never go away and they SUCK...
8 posted on 08/22/2006 12:47:13 PM PDT by hosepipe (CAUTION: This propaganda is laced with hyperbole.)
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To: Mind-numbed Robot
worm holes

Crap, I forgot about worm holes. Without black holes, there can be no worm holes, just damn.
9 posted on 08/22/2006 12:49:25 PM PDT by HEY4QDEMS (Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.)
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To: fso301

"Well, this is yet another example of why I don't take hard positions with respect to cosmology or quantum physics."

Well, if you did take a hard position with respect to quantum mechanics then it would be impossible to know your velocity.


10 posted on 08/22/2006 12:53:01 PM PDT by Moral Hazard (The "missing links" in evolution are nothing compared to the extraneous links in intelligent design.)
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To: Moral Hazard
Well, if you did take a hard position with respect to quantum mechanics then it would be impossible to know your velocity.

or position.

11 posted on 08/22/2006 12:55:00 PM PDT by fso301
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To: NonLinear
This actually makes a lot more sense to me than a black hole. The event horizon is the point at which mathematical equations show that time should stop and mass should become infinite for any object falling into the "hole". Just above the event horizon, time moves very slowly. Simply logic suggests that matter never actually reaches the event horizon but is forever falling toward it, more slowly (to an outside observer or the rest of the universe) as it gets closer ot the event horizon. Of course from the reference frame of the falling particle, it would apear as if the entire universe would race by and end before it got to the event horizon.
12 posted on 08/22/2006 12:56:35 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: fso301
I'll bet you have a hard position on evolution vs. ID though. The evo's change that theory almost daily also. Then we get on here and go, uhh huhh, nuuh uhh, yo moma, for 3000 posts.The evo's position is always anything but God. And I mean ANYTHING.
13 posted on 08/22/2006 12:56:55 PM PDT by chuckles
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To: Moral Hazard
Well, if you did take a hard position with respect to quantum mechanics then it would be impossible to know your velocity.

I didn't fully appreciate the extent to which Heisenberg was in your post until after posting my first reply to you.

14 posted on 08/22/2006 12:56:57 PM PDT by fso301
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To: NonLinear
To put it another way, as the mass collapses toward the point of a singularity, the gravity increase (and possibly velocity increase) actually slows the collapse of the mass to the rest of the universe such that the universe could end before the final second needed to finish collapsing into a singularity has happened.
15 posted on 08/22/2006 12:59:17 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: chuckles
I'll bet you have a hard position on evolution vs. ID though.

Yes but that's because ID is only a theory.

16 posted on 08/22/2006 12:59:20 PM PDT by fso301
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To: chuckles
"The evo's change that theory almost daily also."

That's what happens when your theory has to explain every fossil found, as opposed to intelligent design which can't explain ANY fossil found.
17 posted on 08/22/2006 1:02:35 PM PDT by Moral Hazard (The "missing links" in evolution are nothing compared to the extraneous links in intelligent design.)
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To: Question_Assumptions
Of course from the reference frame of the falling particle, it would apear as if the entire universe would race by and end before it got to the event horizon.

Sort of like the last 10 minutes of the meeting I was just in.

18 posted on 08/22/2006 1:06:12 PM PDT by OSHA (Lose money FAST playing penny stocks. Ask me how!)
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To: Mind-numbed Robot
What can one believe? If there are no black holes is there dark matter, anti-matter, worm holes, strings, .... ????

Believe this. Dark matter is good for the soul. Don't be afraid of the dark.


19 posted on 08/22/2006 1:06:35 PM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (Dawn of light...lying between a silence and sold sources...)
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To: NonLinear
But a black hole in an accretion disc can’t have its own magnetic field, Schild added. This is because normally, a spinning object can be magnetic only if it carries an electric charge. A black hole can’t sustain such charge, because any charged hole will immediately suck in enough oppositely-charged material to cancel out its own charge.

This doesn't make sense to me. For one thing, the canonical model for astrophysical jets involves both an accretion disk and a strong magnetic field.

For another thing, it seems to me that any difference in attraction between positive and negative charges in the accretion disk will be overwhelmed by the gravitational attraction, so that the infalling matter should be electrically neutral.

For a third thing, the magnetic flux should be frozen into the black hole at collapse time, much like in a superconductor, so I don't see how the magnetic field can dissipate.

I've really never heard that supermassive black holes would not have magnetic fields. I don't see why this result is so surprising, or why exotic theories need to be invoked to explain it.

20 posted on 08/22/2006 1:10:09 PM PDT by Physicist
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To: NonLinear

the time-honored concept of the black hole?

I remember being staggered by the headlines
in the '60's when Astronomers officially
conferred the name Black Hole on these
cosmic entities. Prior to that, there were
a FEW astronomers who had theories about
them...but NO general agreement, let alone
time-honored concept. And the term BlacK
Hole had hardly even made it to the College
text books prior to Stanley Kubrick's @001:
A Space Odyssey.

http://flux.aps.org/meetings/YR04/APR04/baps/abs/S630.html




21 posted on 08/22/2006 1:10:39 PM PDT by Grendel9
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To: Mind-numbed Robot

I can think of two black holes that exist....Henry Waxman's nostrils!!


22 posted on 08/22/2006 1:11:45 PM PDT by YaYa123
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To: chuckles
The evo's change that theory almost daily also.

Uh, yes. This is the way science works. A theory is proposed based on observations, and the theory changes as new evidence is discovered. That people would point to this as a weakness of evolutionary theory is incredibly funny to me.

This paradigm makes a lot more sense to me than having a previously-written guide to the way everything must be and then trying to shoehorn all new discoveries into said guide.
23 posted on 08/22/2006 1:14:39 PM PDT by Stone Mountain
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To: Mind-numbed Robot
Darn! Another theory shot in the butt. What can one believe? If there are no black holes is there dark matter, anti-matter, worm holes, strings, .... ???? Is the speed of light a constant?? Is Elvis gone?

We think we have answers to all but the last one...

CA....

24 posted on 08/22/2006 1:15:50 PM PDT by Chances Are (Whew! It seems I've once again found that silly grin!)
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To: Moral Hazard

Very good.


25 posted on 08/22/2006 1:15:58 PM PDT by Young Scholar
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To: NonLinear
a surprising property: it gradually crams itself into a smaller space forever

Surprising except when the MSM manages to put most of its energy into one trivial story or non-story such as the pencilneck mental case found in Thailand.

26 posted on 08/22/2006 1:17:55 PM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the law of the excluded middle)
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To: Physicist
But a black hole in an accretion disc can’t have its own magnetic field, Schild added. This is because normally, a spinning object can be magnetic only if it carries an electric charge. A black hole can’t sustain such charge, because any charged hole will immediately suck in enough oppositely-charged material to cancel out its own charge.

I didn't buy that line either. Where does all this oppositely charged matter originate that drops in to cancel the charge? I was unaware that vast clouds of charged particles surrounded black holes, waiting to cancel out any accumulated surface charges....
27 posted on 08/22/2006 1:32:06 PM PDT by NonLinear (He's dead, Jim)
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To: HEY4QDEMS
Ah, so that's the reason Bonnie Hammer is cancelling Stargate SG1. No more worm holes.

What's next? More wrestling? Perhaps "Who wants to be in charge of SciFi Channel programming?

How about remakes of Captain Planet, featuring Algor fending off a MECO?

I know, "Who wants to enter a MECO and try to get out?"

28 posted on 08/22/2006 1:34:03 PM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: Calvin Locke
Ah, so that's the reason Bonnie Hammer is cancelling Stargate SG1. No more worm holes.

Go ahead be sarcastic, but I had some real cool travel plans and now they're all screwed up. Damn you Mitro!!
29 posted on 08/22/2006 1:37:26 PM PDT by HEY4QDEMS (Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.)
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To: Moral Hazard; fso301

I am uncertain of my position...and my velocity.

As an aside, I do, however have a cat (who is not in a box with an isotope, but since I've not seen him all day, his state may be indeterminate, nonetheless).


30 posted on 08/22/2006 1:38:37 PM PDT by NonLinear (He's dead, Jim)
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To: NonLinear
Instead, the researchers are picturing a body with a definite size, and a surprising property: it gradually crams itself into a smaller space...

Hillary squeezing into her pantsuit?
31 posted on 08/22/2006 1:46:06 PM PDT by reagan_fanatic (Get off my lawn!)
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To: HEY4QDEMS
...but I had some real cool travel plans

The roaming gnome can't help?

What I'm trying to get a handle on is that they seem to be saying is that magnetism is stronger than
gravity in the article.

32 posted on 08/22/2006 1:50:13 PM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: NonLinear

"but since I've not seen him all day, his state may be indeterminate, nonetheless"

I've always figured that a cat is quite capable of observing whether he is alive or not.


33 posted on 08/22/2006 1:50:28 PM PDT by Moral Hazard (The "missing links" in evolution are nothing compared to the extraneous links in intelligent design.)
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To: Moral Hazard
>I've always figured that a cat is quite capable of observing whether he is alive

Bah. That is nothing
compared to what dogs can do.
Sheldrake studies dogs!


34 posted on 08/22/2006 1:54:09 PM PDT by theFIRMbss (Sorry!)
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To: Mind-numbed Robot
You mean to tell me that "theories" are not true reality? Well what about evolution? Those are real, right? (sarcasm)
35 posted on 08/22/2006 1:56:28 PM PDT by fish hawk (Terror : in a cave in Afghanistan. Treason: in a cave-in , in the Democratic Party)
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To: Calvin Locke
magnetism is stronger than gravity

It is. About a brazillion times stronger, one of the cosmological mysteries. A quart jar of electrons would act on an electron 4000 miles away about the same strength as the gravity of the entire earth.

36 posted on 08/22/2006 1:58:31 PM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the law of the excluded middle)
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To: Mind-numbed Robot

I saw this on some forum (maybe FR) a few years ago:

A friend suggests the following little pair of experiments for anybody wishing to better comprehend the present state of astronomical knowledge:

Get onto the Google search engine and type in "Astronomers surprised".
The resulting list goes on, and on, and on.................... and on. It's good for us to keep aware of how surprised they always are.

Then go into Google again and type "Astronomers confident" This will also produce a magnificently long listing of how absolutely confident they are about their knowledge. Strange how many times they are "surprised" and yet they maintain such absolute "confidence". I wonder what the surprise/confident ratio is. Both lists seem infinitely long....


37 posted on 08/22/2006 1:59:50 PM PDT by poindexters brother
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To: Question_Assumptions
Simply logic suggests that matter never actually reaches the event horizon but is forever falling toward it, more slowly (to an outside observer or the rest of the universe) as it gets closer ot the event horizon.

You're not taking into account that as the mass of the black hole increases, the event horizon "moves outward" and overtakes the infalling matter. [Geek alert: the event horizon isn't actually a thing and it doesn't actually move. It just represents the distance at which you lose sight of stuff as it goes around the bend in the curved spacetime.] And because the Schwarzschild radius is proportional to the mass of the object (as opposed to the cube root of the mass, as is the case with the Earth), the radius grows much faster than you might think, so that the density of the black hole decreases as the square of the radius as the object grows.

Matter outside of the event horizon may be denser than the current black-hole density, so that a new event horizon will form outside of it. In the scenario you painted, with an influx of matter creeping, Achilles-like (from your point of view), towards the event horizon, this will eventually have to happen. The mass of the stuff piling up will bend the space around it. The tortoise will step backwards.

38 posted on 08/22/2006 2:09:34 PM PDT by Physicist
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To: Question_Assumptions

Of course. Time slows down inside a black hole (or a MECO).

Ask any HeeChee if you have any doubts.


39 posted on 08/22/2006 2:51:55 PM PDT by samtheman
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To: SJSAMPLE
I wish they'd stop discovering things that I don't understand.

Time for me to again demand of the powers that be that PI be officially defined as "a bit more than 3."

Mark

40 posted on 08/22/2006 4:06:57 PM PDT by MarkL (When Kaylee says "No power in the `verse can stop me," it's cute. When River says it, it's scary!)
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To: Physicist
You're not taking into account that as the mass of the black hole increases, the event horizon "moves outward" and overtakes the infalling matter.

Remember, the theory here is that the event horizon never actually happens. Even as the mass increases and move outward, it is limited to expand at the speed of light and subject to time dilation, too, isn't it? Isn't the current theory that even gravity is limited to the speed of light and, if so, isn't it also subject to the time dilation of the mass creating it? What I'm visualizing is like a mathematical curve that approaches 0 but never reaches it, even at infinity. It can't, because each baby-step closer takes longer and longer. As the mass gets closer to the density needed to create a true event horizing, it takes longer and longer to compress that little bit more.

[Geek alert: the event horizon isn't actually a thing and it doesn't actually move. It just represents the distance at which you lose sight of stuff as it goes around the bend in the curved spacetime.]

Yeah, I got that, which is why the whole name "hole" is a bit misleading, in my opinion.

And because the Schwarzschild radius is proportional to the mass of the object (as opposed to the cube root of the mass, as is the case with the Earth), the radius grows much faster than you might think, so that the density of the black hole decreases as the square of the radius as the object grows.

The question is whether the time dilation caused by the mass, as it approaches sufficient density to create an event horizon (and effectively make time stop), ever lets the mass finish compressing to the point where it forms a black hole, at least before the end of time (remember, too, that the velocity of the masses involved also contributes to dilation). Velocity has a time component and as time dilates toward 0, velocity with respect to observer frames of reference outside of the black hole also approach zero. In other words, as the mass density approaches the point where it could create an event horizon, time slows toward 0, thus as the mass compresses more and more, the time it takes to compress a little more increases toward infinity.

Matter outside of the event horizon may be denser than the current black-hole density, so that a new event horizon will form outside of it. In the scenario you painted, with an influx of matter creeping, Achilles-like (from your point of view), towards the event horizon, this will eventually have to happen. The mass of the stuff piling up will bend the space around it. The tortoise will step backwards.

How can even a tortoise take a step before the universe comes to an end when the time dilation component of it's frame of reference approaches zero? Consider that this is all happening within a frame of reference where time is heavily dilated and motion of any sort (be it compression, falling, etc.) slows to a point approaching no advancement in time. Yes, from the frame of reference of the particles in the black hole, things compress and the event horizon expands near the speed of light and it all happens almost instantaneously. But from the outside frame of an outside observer (us), everything going on near the mass slows to near stop such that even a tortoise step takes literally forever.

41 posted on 08/22/2006 5:35:37 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: Physicist
To put my question a different way, if the event horizon is the point at which time stops for the local frame of reference, how can anything, even gravity, move outward from it? In fact as mass increases toward the point where time stops, can it ever compress to reach a density at which time stops or will it forever be approaching the point at which time stops but never actually reaching it?
42 posted on 08/22/2006 5:39:02 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: NonLinear
"No black holes after all"

She's still around, she just lost a primary is all.

43 posted on 08/22/2006 5:46:07 PM PDT by muir_redwoods (Free Sirhan Sirhan, after all, the bastard who killed Mary Jo Kopechne is walking around free)
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To: muir_redwoods

Thats "hose", no black hose can be found...


44 posted on 08/22/2006 6:58:41 PM PDT by NonLinear (He's dead, Jim)
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To: hosepipe
There are black holes...
They are called givernment programs.. once enacted they never go away and they always just SUCK...

45 posted on 08/22/2006 7:52:27 PM PDT by DrDavid (Is this a rhetorical question?)
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