September 15, 2020

"A black hole as massive as Earth would be about the size of a Ping-Pong ball and would be exceptionally hard to see."

"No such primordial black holes have been detected yet. But neither has their existence been ruled out. Dr. Scholtz and Dr. Unwin pointed out that an experiment called OGLE, for Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment, based at the University of Warsaw in Poland, had detected the presence of a half-dozen dark objects in the direction of the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Their gravitational fields had acted as lenses, briefly amplifying the light from distant stars that they drifted in front of. Those objects could be free-floating planets, the authors said, with masses ranging from half to about 20 times that of Earth. But they could as easily be primordial black holes floating around the galaxy, the astronomers proposed. If that were the case, the putative Planet Nine could well be a black hole, too, in a distant orbit around the sun.... The prospect of finding a black hole in our own solar system 'is as startling as finding evidence that someone might be living in the shed in your backyard,' [wrote Avi Loeb, chair of the astronomy department at Harvard]. 'If so, who is it, and how did it get there?'"

From "Is There a Black Hole in Our Backyard?/Astrophysicists have recently begun hatching plans to find out just how weird Planet Nine might be" (NYT).

54 comments:

Leland said...

Maybe if it was written: A black hole with only the mass of the Earth would be the size of a ping-pong ball.

I do think that such a mass with that volume yet not emitting light would be difficult to see in the vastness of space.

madAsHell said...

Planet Nine is a hypothesis.

I'm sure I read a sci-fi book with Planet Nine in the title as a kid.

Nonapod said...

It'd be really cool to have the opportunity to study a black hole in our own back yard so to speak. It would also confirm the existance of substeller mass primordial black holes which may account for at least some small portion of the total dark matter of the Universe.

mikee said...

The massive black hole at the center of the galaxy is the one to worry about - on a cosmic time scale - if you think your worrying will do anything about a massive black hole at the center of our galaxy.

AlbertAnonymous said...

HOC please. Black Hole is so 2019.

Jupiter said...

Planet Nine is Pluto. I can't stop these morons from tearing down statues of George Washington (let's see the fuckers burn their own dollar bills!), but no way are they cancelling the ninth planet. Fuck You, Pinko Cosmologists!

MikeR said...

The last comment in the article is the right one: spectacularly unlikely. There was no reason given to believe in this theory. The article was about ways to test it but no reason at all to consider it likely.
I would think that if black holes that are that big are common enough that one of them is our vicinity, we would see all kinds of indications. That's a planet-eater, man! And if it bumped into a star, it would eat that too, ending up with a star-sized regular black hole.

Johnula said...

Let me state the obvious: "Black holes matter".

rhhardin said...

Plan 9 from Outer Space is a cult classic for badness.

Jupiter said...

Just to be clear, the argument, such as it is, for canceling Pluto, is that Pluto is "not like the other planets". See, Earth and Myself are quite similar, except for a couple minor details, but that guy Pluto just doesn't fit in! At least, so says gift-shop manager Neil DeGrasse Tyson and his asshole buddies at NASA (NASA, by the way, is the new WPA. Welfare for incompetent engineers). Now, I might be willing to consider their argument, if they were prepared to provide some details and and consider both sides. But let's just review the bidding. First, they say my old friend Pluto, who's been out here in the Dark with me for ages, God of the Underworld and also of great wealth, has to go, because he's "not really a planet". Right. And now, they plan to smuggle in some Black Hole from Outer Space, and say he is the Ninth Planet. Sorry, fellows. I don't think so. Go take a dip in your own event horizon.

rhhardin said...

Planet 9 then falls into the sports equipment group, as to size. Hail the size of baseballs.

Tumors go for vegetables.

buwaya said...

Re the gravitational lensing phenomena - much more likely to be wandering planets or "brown dwarf" stars. Those generally can't be seen either.

gilbar said...

let's take a look, at The Facts

it is a Known FACT,
that CERN's Large Hadron Collider produces black holes
it is a Known FACT,
that there was NO MENTION of a sun orbiting "planet 9" Black hole BEFORE CERN made this device

DO THE MATH! People!!! The Europeans are INTENTIONALLY TRYING TO KILL US ALL!
Our Only Hope, is an immediate preemptive nuclear strike
ACT NOW!

Fernandinande said...

the total dark matter of the Universe

Black Holes Matter.

Original Mike said...

"I would think that if black holes that are that big are common enough that one of them is our vicinity, we would see all kinds of indications."

I wouldn't think that. It all depends on the number of black holes (hypothetically) produced in the Big Bang.

Original Mike said...

I think the cool test would be to send a probe that could send a smaller probe into the black hole (like Cassini sent Huygens to Titan). Measure the time dilation as the smaller probe approaches. It's probably too much to ask to observe the prediction that time stops at the event horizon, but that would be awesome.

Original Mike said...

"gift-shop manager Neil DeGrasse Tyson"

Excellent.

Fernandinande said...

I heard that Uranus is being cancelled and will be renamed "Butthole".

Fernandinande said...

Because Uranus is one of those shithole planets.

Gabriel said...

Inferring the presence of an unknown planet because of anomalies in the orbits of known planets led directly to the discoveries of Uranus and Neptune.

On that basis Percival Lowell predicted a ninth planet, but when Pluto was discovered, it soon became apparent that Pluto was not big enough to be that ninth planet, and later was discovered that the orbital anomalies did not require a ninth planet for resolution.

The demotion of Pluto from "planet" status was due to so many objects of Pluto's size being discovered in the solar system, and it didn't make sense to astronomer to count only Pluto, for historical reasons, as a "planet". It makes much more sense in terms of physical properties to count all of those objects as planets (meaning we now have dozens), or none of them (meaning we have eight).

Pluto is not the first planet to be demoted either.

DanTheMan said...

How much longer will we use the term "black holes"? I'm sure somebody, somewhere is right now trying to cancel that.

Everything is political now. Everything.

Unknown said...

Pet Peeve: Amplify means adding energy/power. The correct term is magnify where the power does not change from the input.

Mary Beth said...

Jupiter said...

Planet Nine is Pluto. I can't stop these morons from tearing down statues of George Washington (let's see the fuckers burn their own dollar bills!), but no way are they cancelling the ninth planet. Fuck You, Pinko Cosmologists!


It's nice to see the big guy sticking up for the little guy.

Qwinn said...

The *event horizon* around the black hole might be as big as a ping pong ball, but the actual mass would all be in the infinitesimal pinpoint in the middle. That's what happens when things collapse toward infinity.

As far as "normal", non-infinitely-collapsing matter goes, the most densely you could compact the Earth would be into the stuff of neutron stars, neutronium, a ball around roughly 100 feet in diameter. Except you'd have to have a tremendous force keeping it crushed into that density (normally provided by being a part of a neutron star of at least a couple solar masses). An earth-sized chunk of neutronium that wasn't somehow being compacted any longer would explode quite violently, as the Strong Force of the atoms reasserted itself and blew all the neutron-nuclei apart. What I don't know is, would the neutron-nuclei also somehow expel and re-create the electrons that were forced into the protons (rendering them neutrons) during the compacting, thus becoming normal proton-electron matter again, or would they just remain a bunch of neutrons?

gilbar said...

and it didn't make sense to astronomer to count only Pluto, for historical reasons, as a "planet"

serious question
What about Europe? Not the asteroid, the "continent"
Europe, AT BEST, a sub continent. It is no more separate from Asia, than India is
continents are separated by WATER; not Mountains!

I am TIRED of geographers having to count only Europe, for historical reasons

tim in vermont said...

"Plan 9 from Outer Space is a cult classic for badness.”

A movie so bad they made a movie about the making of it, Ed Wood, which is actually kind of good.

tim in vermont said...

"Plan 9 from Outer Space is a cult classic for badness.”

A movie so bad they made a movie about the making of it, Ed Wood, which is actually kind of good.

Leland said...

How much longer will we use the term "black holes"? I'm sure somebody, somewhere is right now trying to cancel that.


Dude, er Man, Black Holes Matter. See Johnula @10:59 The thing that needs to be cancelled is White Drawfs, because they are degenerates.

wholelottasplainin' said...

DanTheMan said...
How much longer will we use the term "black holes"? I'm sure somebody, somewhere is right now trying to cancel that.

Everything is political now. Everything.
**************

How about "holes of color"?

boatbuilder said...

All I know is that Planet 10 is where Red Lectroids come from.

Gabriel said...

@gilbar: Europe, AT BEST, a sub continent. It is no more separate from Asia, than India is
continents are separated by WATER; not Mountains!


Some geographers do say Eurasia. Some do refer to India as a "subcontinent" and the same could be said for Europe. Technically Africa is not "separated by water" from Asia either... neither is North from South America.

In the lifetime of the Solar System continents are a lot more evanescent than planets.

Lucien said...

At least we orbit a non-binary star.

Jupiter said...

Blogger Gabriel said...

"The demotion of Pluto from "planet" status was due to so many objects of Pluto's size being discovered in the solar system, and it didn't make sense to astronomer to count only Pluto, for historical reasons, as a "planet". It makes much more sense in terms of physical properties to count all of those objects as planets (meaning we now have dozens), or none of them (meaning we have eight)."

Yuh-huh. Another Pinko Cosmologist heard from. Or maybe a Pinko Cosmetologist. I bet you measure your dick in centimeters.

MikeR said...

@OriginalMike "I think the cool test would be to send a probe that could send a smaller probe into the black hole (like Cassini sent Huygens to Titan)."
Mike, are you aware that a significant fraction of the mass of an object is released as energy when it is crushed on a subatomic level as it falls into a black hole? You do not want to be near one of these things. That's one reason I assume that we are not.

Rob said...

If I found a stranger living in my shed, I’d apologize for insult and injury they have experienced as a result of my racism, cultural oppression, misogyny, and sexual harassment. Then I’d burn down the shed.

Roy Jacobsen said...

boatbuilder said...
All I know is that Planet 10 is where Red Lectroids come from.

+20 points for the BB reference.

"Evil PURE AND SIMPLE by way of the Eighth Dimension!"

Mike said...

Qwinn asked: What I don't know is, would the neutron-nuclei also somehow expel and re-create the electrons that were forced into the protons (rendering them neutrons) during the compacting, thus becoming normal proton-electron matter again, or would they just remain a bunch of neutrons?

Neutrons are just a little heavier than protons, so they will decay into protons, electrons and anti-neutrinos. The half life of this decay is 10-minutes, 11-seconds. So after about 50-minutes, nearly all of the neutrons will be gone.

wholelottasplainin' said...

Jupiter said...
Blogger Gabriel said...

"The demotion of Pluto from "planet" status was due to so many objects of Pluto's size being discovered in the solar system, and it didn't make sense to astronomer to count only Pluto, for historical reasons, as a "planet". It makes much more sense in terms of physical properties to count all of those objects as planets (meaning we now have dozens), or none of them (meaning we have eight)."

Yuh-huh. Another Pinko Cosmologist heard from. Or maybe a Pinko Cosmetologist. I bet you measure your dick in centimeters.
&&&&&&&&&&

C'mon, Jupiter: make at least a science-y rebuttal. Myself, I understand the urge to fling snot, but surely you can offer something substantive. Why is Gabriel's view "pinko"?

mandrewa said...

"The demotion of Pluto from "planet" status was due to so many objects of Pluto's size being discovered in the solar system, and it didn't make sense to astronomer to count only Pluto, for historical reasons, as a "planet". It makes much more sense in terms of physical properties to count all of those objects as planets (meaning we now have dozens), or none of them (meaning we have eight)."

I know you probably know this, but just to say things with a bit more explanation.

A planet is an object that: (a) is in orbit around the sun; (b) is large enough to be basically a sphere; and (c) has cleared its orbit around the sun.

A dwarf planet is an object that: (a) is in orbit around the sun; (b) is large enough to be basically a sphere; and (c) has not cleared its orbit around the sun.

There are eight planets and five dwarf planets in our solar system. The five dwarf planets are Ceres, Pluto, Eris, Makemake, and Haumea.

A moon is an object that is in orbit around either a planet or a dwarf planet. There are nineteen moons that are large enough to be considered planets or dwarf planets if they were on their own. And seven of these planetary moons are larger than Pluto.

The only difficult part of this is the idea of clearing an orbit. Basically, a planet has cleared its orbit when everything of any size in its path (ignoring visitors from the Oort Cloud or the Milky Way) is locked onto the planet. That means it will either be a moon of the planet or in the leading or trailing trojan orbits. And I just discovered that the Earth has a leading trojan, 2010 TK7, which I didn't know about. But some of the other planets have a whole bunch of trojans.

Bob Smith said...

“We haven’t found that black hole yet but if the grant is big enough we’ll keep looking “

mandrewa said...

Ok, I found it!

Anton Petrov did a great job of covering this idea eleven months ago, see Scientists wonder if Planet 9 could be a primordial black hole

I don't have a subscription to the New York Times, so I'm not going to read that article, but I suspect Anton did at least as good a job if not better of explaining the idea.

Darrell said...

Pluto is not the first planet to be demoted either.

Yep, Planet Claire.

I'm Not Sure said...

"All I know is that Planet 10 is where Red Lectroids come from."

John Bigbooté, is that you?

Gabriel said...

@Jupiter: I bet you measure your dick in centimeters.

No need to be like that. Unless u mad bro.

If you want "planet" to be a participation trophy it's no skin off my nose.

Gabriel said...

@Quinn:What I don't know is, would the neutron-nuclei also somehow expel and re-create the electrons that were forced into the protons (rendering them neutrons) during the compacting, thus becoming normal proton-electron matter again, or would they just remain a bunch of neutrons?

Neutrons won't stick together long, they don't form stable bound states. Isolated neutrons have a half life of about 10 minutes, and then they decay into protons, electrons, and antineutrinos.

I guess you'd get a cloud of hydrogen. If you had enough, might make a new star.

mandrewa said...

Now this is interesting. See Hubble observations suggest a missing ingredient in dark matter theories.

So the context is dark matter which is our name for things we can't see that we assume are there because they seem to be changing the motion of other things through gravity. And
dark matter is actually really common because we can't explain the motion of almost any galaxy we look at without assuming the existence of some kind of dark matter.

Despite the paucity of data, astrophysicists have a number of theories about what dark matter might consist of.

But this new discovery seems to contradict all of those theories. None of them predict what the telescopes are seeing.

This by the way is another example of gravitational lensing, or what we should be able to see, if we look in the right place if Planet 9 is a black hole.

tim in vermont said...

So if it crashed into ol Sol, our sun would just disappear into it and maybe we would continue in our orbits because the mass wouldn’t change.

narciso said...


early intro to the book section,

http://www.scifiwright.com/2014/12/pay-no-attention-to-that-man-behind-the-curtain/

gilbar said...

Gabriel said...
Technically Africa is not "separated by water" from Asia either... neither is North from South America.


i KNEW someone would go there!
you could NOT be more wrong!!! what are you? BLIND??
maybe you meant to say Africa was not "separated by water" from Asia either...
neither was North from South America.

they Sure As HELL are now!!
so! let's SEE someone try to dig a canal across the Urals! (or, the Himalayas )

Jupiter said...

"No need to be like that. Unless u mad bro."

Bro? No bro. There were five planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter (ahem) and Saturn. They were called planets after the Greek word that meant wanderer, because they do not keep a fixed place among the stars. Various people have added to that number, for reasons of varying plausibility. But the assholes who claim to have canceled Pluto are the same assholes who claim there are fifty-seven genders, and there are no differences between races, except that white people are just naturally racist, and traditional measures should be replaced by "metric" measures, because the latter are obviously superior.

To spell it out, there are people who hide behind the mantle of "science" to attack anything claiming the sanction of tradition. This is because they intend to steal everything, and they want the labels removed before they cart the loot away.

Gabriel said...

@gilbar:they Sure As HELL are now!!

So you can make new continents by digging ditches?

Is the Eastern United States a separate continent from the west? There's water separating it from the Atlantic through St Lawrence River to Lake Michigan, to the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to Des Plaine, Illinois, and Mississippi Rivers to the Gulf of Mexico and back to the Atlantic...

Jupiter said...

"Despite the paucity of data, astrophysicists have a number of theories about what dark matter might consist of."

Ask yourself how much you would know about sex, if all your data had been gathered using a telescope.

wholelottasplainin' said...

tim in vermont said...
So if it crashed into ol Sol, our sun would just disappear into it and maybe we would continue in our orbits because the mass wouldn’t change.
*************

Oh sure....all that gravitational pull from the hole would ignore us and just swallow the sun.

Sure.

And, of course, there's the wee problem of where we would get the energy to heat our planet after the Sun disappeared.

Josephbleau said...

In a manner of speaking, a massive black hole the size of a small black hole.