Could Black Holes Destroy the Universe? (Synopsis)

Out there in the Universe, black holes are some of the most extreme examples of physics in the Universe. Space is curved tremendously, there's an incredible concentration of energy all in one, singular point, and everything that occurs, in theory, outside of the event horizon can be seen in our Universe.

Image Credits: Birmingham Libraries. Image Credits: Birmingham Libraries.

But what if one of those things that it can do is make the quantum vacuum in this incredibly curved space unstable? What if it can allow the vacuum to tunnel from its metastable state into one that's truly stable?

Image Credits: Gary Scott Watson. Image Credits: Gary Scott Watson.

In theory this can destroy the entire Universe. Will it, though? Sabine Hossenfelder has the full story.

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Ma'am, you said that //[...] There is absolutely no indication that the LHC has produced even a single one of them, and at this point the idea seems very unlikely to be correct, but this too has not strictly speaking been ruled out. [...]//

Could you explain why hasn't the idea been "strictly" ruled out? Prof. John Ellis ruled this out as explained in this paper: http://lsag.web.cern.ch/lsag/LSAG-Report.pdf

By Moinak Banerjee (not verified) on 02 Apr 2015 #permalink

So if this speculation if correct, when the first BH manages to evaporate, the transformation to a whole other type of universe (without us) begins. Is the phase change velocity restricted to the speed of light? If it is, the bubble won't have access to the vast bulk of the BB universe. But, if it expands superluminally, its all over! But, long before than the stars will all have gone out -or some sort of dark energy catastrophe will have happened.

By Omega Centauri (not verified) on 02 Apr 2015 #permalink

when the first BH manages to evaporate, the transformation to a whole other type of universe (without us) begins

Maybe not. There's no matter/energy dense region creating conditions that allow an entire universe of trillions of galaxies of trillions of stars from a mass that's only a billion solar masses.

Could black holes destroy the universe?Well I don't know but from what I have read it definitely sounds like a possibility but what is the odds for this to happen? 15057357

By T. Duvenage (not verified) on 02 Apr 2015 #permalink

It is still being debated but one must keep in mind that the universe is forever expanding and black holes continue to absorb matter. One can say that our universe is the inside of a black hole and the reason for its expansion is because it is constantly absorbing matter so it is highly unlikely for the universe to be destroyed by black holes. Another possibility is that the black holes would destroy themselves before destroying the universe
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A black hole is described as dark matter - a gigantic puddle of nothingness sucking up anything close to it into its world of nothingness. However, according to Einstein, matter is energy, and energy cannot be created or destroyed but can only be transformed from one form to another. Since this black hole dark matter is matter, it also has some form of energy. I do however disagree that a black whole can cause a vacuum that will eventually cause the universe to become nothing nothingness. According to what energy is and what it stands for, the universe will not be able to be destroyed by a black hole. I do however think that the universe is far more vast than most people allow themselves to think it is. A black hole could simply be a transport medium that engulfs matter (energy) and releases it elsewhere.

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By Pietersen, F. H (not verified) on 03 Apr 2015 #permalink

"A black hole is described as dark matter "

Only by you.

Only by you.

Pietersen, I disagree with your analogy of calling a black hole 'nothingness' because a blackhole is in essence 'everything.' It is a large concentration of matter and energy to the extent that nothing, not even light, can escape it's immensely powerful gravitational pull. I do however agree with you in saying that a black hole will not be capable of destroying the universe and it's energy as, according to the first law of thermodynamics, energy can neither be created nor destroyed.
But, would it be possible for a black hole to capture the energy of the universe and transfer or transform it else where? Into a parallel universe?
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By Daena Lund (not verified) on 04 Apr 2015 #permalink

I agree in some ways with FH Pietersen as the universe cannot simply become nothingness. The universe has energy and energy cannot be destroyed or created but simply changed from one form to another. So it could be possible for black holes to change our universe, but i doubt if it would consume it totally. And I disagree with it being a medium of transport. This sounds a bit unlikely to me but I would appreciate another opinion.

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By Alri Richter (not verified) on 05 Apr 2015 #permalink

I have never given much attention on these, to get more information, how are these black holes generated or formed?

By Mashaba FS-u13356004 (not verified) on 05 Apr 2015 #permalink

The concept of dark matter and black holes has always been an abstract idea to me. If we think about a black hole or several of them destroying the universe, would they, after sucking up everything still exist? Where would they exist? wouldn't you still call the area where they exist part of the universe, how can it therefor destroy the area it is in, and will it destroy each other?

By Marinda le Rou… (not verified) on 05 Apr 2015 #permalink

@ Mashaba ...a black hole is a defined region or area of spacetime with charactoristics of a strong gravitational pull that no particle or even electromagnetic radiation can escape from it. basicly ....it sucks up everything in space ...Even light cannot escape as it has no reflective properties .......

and i agree with FH Pietersen ....it is possible for black holes to change our universe .In fact they are capable of altering the solar system ,thus resulting in orbital re-arrangement

By Kevin RK u14169046 (not verified) on 05 Apr 2015 #permalink

Is there any advantages of the black hole? Can it be filled?

By u15162258 (not verified) on 06 Apr 2015 #permalink

We must keep in mind that the first rule of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be destroyed or created only transferred. I agree with you Daena Lund. A black hole is the concentration of energy in one space, thus a black hole takes energy from the universe outside of it. So the black hole can keep the energy in itself due to the strong gravitational pull it possesses of and that can end up destroying the universe. Or the black hole can just transport the energy into another dimension or space. We must also remember that our universe is still expanding so I do not think that a black hole will destroy the universe anytime soon.

By Ilze Dreyer u1… (not verified) on 06 Apr 2015 #permalink

WOW..... very interesting. I think it can destroy the universe maybe not in due time but in the very future you never know. We do not know what exactly a black hole is capable of doing. Only time will tell. I like everyone's reasons they all make perfect sense but as I said only time will tell.

By Fabianna K (not verified) on 06 Apr 2015 #permalink

What are the advantages of the black hole? Can it be filled? If yes with what?

By u15162258 (not verified) on 06 Apr 2015 #permalink

If a black hole sucks in everything due to its gravitational pull, when will it stop pulling matter into itself? is there a limit to the amount of matter it pulls?

By Aaminah u15057012 (not verified) on 06 Apr 2015 #permalink

So i have watched natural geographic you guys can also do it explain a lot about the complicated process of the black hole

By Thabo u15139892 (not verified) on 06 Apr 2015 #permalink

According to me a black hole is the cold remnants of former stars and this is so dense that no matter, or light can escape from its powerful gravitational pull. I think that over a long period of time this might have the ability to capture everything in its powerful force and destroy the universe. We will have to wait and see what happens, but I think when that occurs we will be long gone. It might be that at that time Earth will no longer exist because of current changes and global warming. My only question is if a black hole can have such a big of a force to pull the whole universe in and keep all the content of the universe in its powerful forces?

By Wilhelm Briers… (not verified) on 06 Apr 2015 #permalink

Well, yes, but why should that be true if even you admit it's only what you say?

Hello fellow bloggers, i find it quite hard to fully understand how black holes work but from the knowledge i gained, black holes have the power to keep any form of matter in by its strong gravitaional pull provided that that matter is in an attainable distance from the black hole and it has a smaller mass to that of the black hole. For the universe to be completely pulled into a black hole, the black hole would have to be really large and it would have to be close enough to actually be affected by the gravitational pull of that particular black hole.
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By Mamobu Mabunda (not verified) on 06 Apr 2015 #permalink

The universe consists of large amounts of matter and energy. This amount of matter and energy is possibly, too large for a black hole to consume. Black holes will not destroy the universe, as they only consume whatever crosses their path.

By DS Moosa (15027504) (not verified) on 07 Apr 2015 #permalink

With respect to Mamobu Mabunda's comment, I also struggle to fathom how black holes function. I agree that for the universe to be pulled into a black hole, the black hole would have to be large however its temperature would below the temperature of the cosmic microwave background due to their mass and size. Thus, would the black hole not just continue to grow?

By K Dhanjee, u15094601 (not verified) on 07 Apr 2015 #permalink

According to the law of conservation of matter, matter can not be created nor can it be destroyed and as so even if the black holes are to swallow up the earth it will never be to destroy the earth. This phenomena is also linked to the law of conservation of energy whereby the where be a transfer of energy perhaps to a different milky way.

By u15006680 (not verified) on 07 Apr 2015 #permalink

You didn't address a very important point. Once we have some true vacuum in this here universe, how fast does it grow? Is it slower than the speed of light? (If so, we'd have some warning, not that we could do anything about it except start to party.) What happens as it grows? Does it grow at the same speed in all directions, until part of the resulting sphere reaches the boundary of the universe? Is there a continual massive release of energy at the (ever-growing) boundary? Would we detect that release of energy at some lower level before it rose to the level to mean The End of Life As We Know It? Inquiring minds, and all that...
PS re #24 There's no law of conservation of matter, since e=mc**2, right?
PS re #22 We don't care overly if black holes destroy the universe if, in the process of perhaps not quite managing that, one of them destroys us.

By Floyd Earl Smith (not verified) on 07 Apr 2015 #permalink

If a black hole with the same mass as the sun were to replace the sun, Earth would not fall in. The black hole with the same mass as the sun would keep the same gravity as the sun. The planets would still orbit the black hole as they orbit the sun now.
Does anybody know how a black hole forms?

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Why must that law hold at the singularity?

I give up, Smit, why bother answering a question that has had so little effort put into trying to find an answer for yourself on it?

Well from what I've read it surely is possible that black holes can destroy the universe.... What is the odds of this happening though?

@ #29
Referring to the universe is very vague, because black holes, like planets, stars and galaxies exist in the universe, considering that the universe is all existing matter and space considered as a whole, so i don't think they can destroy the universe because they exist in it, rather they can destroy the Earth, which is highly unlikely
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By MP Marara (not verified) on 10 Apr 2015 #permalink

When I watched a documentary about black holes for the first time back in 2009, I was terrified not because of the threat a black hole can cause, but because I realized that I had almost zero knowledge in the field of science. Now it is the opposite because my interest in science has always been increased by articles such as this.

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By andrea chiangjieh (not verified) on 10 Apr 2015 #permalink

sometimes i just wonder what do scientists do to come up with photos such as those above. and are we having any artificial satelites outside our galaxy?

By jacob ayiik (not verified) on 10 Apr 2015 #permalink

If a black has a Tense Gravitational pull that not even light might escape, it is possible that it might suck the whole of universe in millions of years to come. According to the conversation of energy ,energy cannot be created noh destroyed thus the energy a black whole sucks in the universe will eventually be converted into anything else

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By Kgopotso Phakw… (not verified) on 12 Apr 2015 #permalink

Black holes don't suck things in, any more than Earth sucks stuff in, despite asteroids whacking into the Earth regularly in a capture orbit.

i don't know if you guys can help me. i suffer very very badly with anxiety and reading this article, and others on this sight have both helped, and alarmed me. i have tried to assist myself by reading the right things but i now need a little help / advice from people with scientific knowledge

right now i am hysterical with fear that the LHC will create small black holes that will ultimately seed the vacuum decay. could you guys tell me that if this happened, how long would this take? and what is the current standing in the scientific community about the possibility of this? I'm from a legal background so really don't have scientific knowledge. sorry if this seems an odd question

Black holes are very interesting, and it amazes me that even today, with all our technology, we still have no evidence of what happens to the mater that enters a black hole. It's amazing to think that something so large is something we actually know very little about. On the topic of it destroying the universe, I don't think it will happen. Everything in the universe happens with such precision it's actually frightening. The universe has been around for an indefinite amount of time and hasn't been destroyed, so I think we are safe from this one. 15019838

By Jarryd Outram (not verified) on 15 Apr 2015 #permalink

Could a black hole become so full it explodes? A new Big Bang?

No.

Black holes don't explode because they get bigger. They "explode" (really, evaporate) when they get very very small.

And that would not be a new big bang. It would limit to the weight of the black hole for a start, and we have no universe-sized black holes, nor any way to make them out of any universe.

"could you guys tell me that if this happened, how long would this take?"

It can't happen.

Stop letting idiots scare you.