Black holes have always been a subject of fascination in both the scientific community and the public.
These enigmatic celestial objects are known for their intense gravity, swallowing everything that comes too close, including light itself.
While the term “black hole” is the most common and widely recognized, there are actually other names and classifications used by scientists and astronomers to describe these cosmic phenomena.
When it comes to alternative names, the well-known black hole M87*, for example, has several designations based on various catalog systems, such as NGC 4486, UGC 7654, Arp 152, and 3C 274.
Another name for this black hole is Pōwehi, which starts to gain traction as a unique identifier.
Although some of these names may not be as catchy or as descriptive as “black hole,” they reflect the scientific and cultural significance of these awe-inspiring cosmic wonders.
Classification Names of Black Holes
Black holes are fascinating astronomical objects, and they come in various types based on their mass.
Some of the most-common classifications include stellar-mass black holes, intermediate-mass black holes, and supermassive black holes.
It’s important to note that the mass ranges defining each group are approximate, and scientists are always reevaluating where the boundaries should be set.
Stellar-mass black holes are formed when a massive star collapses under its own gravity after consuming all its nuclear fuel.
These black holes typically have a mass between 1.4 and 20 times that of our Sun.
Interestingly, they can sometimes be detected in binary systems, where they share an orbit with another star.
Intermediate-mass black holes are rarer than their stellar-mass and supermassive counterparts.
They have a mass between 100 and 1,000 times that of the Sun.
While the existence of intermediate-mass black holes has not been conclusively proven, there is growing evidence that supports their presence in the universe.
Supermassive black holes are giants, with masses millions or billions of times that of the Sun.
They are commonly found at the centers of galaxies, including our own Milky Way galaxy which houses Sagittarius A.
The supermassive black hole at the center of M87* galaxy has a mass equal to six and a half billion Suns but is only 38 billion kilometers (24 billion miles) across.
In addition to these three well-known classifications, there are also hypothetical primordial black holes.
These black holes would have formed in the earliest moments of the universe, shortly after the Big Bang.
If they exist, primordial black holes could have masses ranging from extremely small, similar to an atom, up to several thousand times the mass of our Sun.
It’s worth mentioning neutron stars, which are not black holes but are often discussed in conjunction with them.
Neutron stars are incredibly dense, compact objects formed in the aftermath of a supernova, the explosion of a massive star.
They are essentially the collapsed remnants of a massive star’s core, and while they do not possess an event horizon like a black hole, they still exhibit strong gravitational forces and emit radiation.
Names of Famous Black Holes in the Universe
In our very own galaxy, the Milky Way, there resides a supermassive black hole called Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*).
Located at the center of the galaxy, Sgr A* holds a mass equivalent to approximately four million times that of our Sun.
The immense gravity generated by this black hole affects the movement of nearby stars and other celestial bodies.
Another well-known black hole is located in the M87 galaxy.
This is also a supermassive black hole, but it’s much bigger than Sagittarius A*.
In fact, its mass is estimated to be around 6.5 billion times that of our Sun!
This black hole, often referred to as M87* or the M87 black hole, made headlines in 2019 when the first-ever image of a black hole was released.
Captured by the Event Horizon Telescope, this photograph showcased the black hole’s shadow and the glowing plasma around it, providing an unprecedented glimpse into these mysterious cosmic entities.
While Sagittarius A* and the M87 black hole are undoubtedly some of the most famous examples, numerous other black holes exist throughout the universe. E
ach one forms under unique circumstances and exhibits distinct properties, but all share the same core characteristics – strong gravitational forces that even light cannot escape.
The Process of Black Hole Naming
When it comes to naming black holes, you’ll find that there isn’t a unified naming system.
The supermassive black holes residing in the cores of galaxies usually take on the names of their respective galaxies.
For example, a galaxy catalogued by Charles Messier in the 1700s, like M87, gives its name to the black hole at its core.
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) often plays a significant role in naming celestial objects, but black holes generally don’t receive any IAU-assigned names.
As an exception, the historic first image of a black hole in the M87 galaxy was given a Hawaiian name: Pōwehi, which means “embellished dark source of unending creation.”
This name was chosen as a tribute to the cultural importance of Hawai’i in the field of astronomy.
It’s essential for you to understand that black hole names typically stem from their location in the sky or their position in a catalogue.
Black holes may also be designated by numbers that refer to their brightness in the sky, or labels based on coordinates in space, like the designation ‘3C 274’ for the M87 black hole as previously mentioned.
Historical Names for Black Holes
In the late 18th century, hints at black holes emerged when the concept of “dark stars” was proposed.
However, it wasn’t until Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity that their existence was predicted.
Despite being rooted in Einstein’s work, the term “black hole” wasn’t officially used until the 1960s.
The phrase was coined by physicist John A. Wheeler, following the discoveries made by Karl Schwarzschild and Stephen Hawking.
Black holes have garnered various names over time, reflecting their mysterious nature.
Sagittarius A*, for example, is a well-known supermassive black hole that lies at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.
Its name refers to its position in the Sagittarius constellation, with an additional asterisk denoting its peculiar radio source properties.
Another term that has surfaced to describe black holes is “void,” amplifying the enigmatic and seemingly empty nature of these cosmic phenomena.
Although not as widely used, “void” embodies the idea that black holes are voids in space-time, swallowing all matter and energy that crosses their event horizon.
Common Antonyms for Black Holes
When discussing black holes, it’s important to understand their opposites.
One interesting concept that contrasts with black holes is white holes.
While black holes are known for their intense gravity and inescapable nature, white holes are the theoretical opposite; they’re believed to emit matter and energy, and nothing can enter them due to their repulsive gravity.
Though it’s an intriguing idea, white holes remain purely theoretical, and no actual evidence of their existence has been found so far.
Another term that contrasts black holes is white dwarfs.
While they may share a similar name, white dwarfs and black holes are entirely different astronomical objects.
A white dwarf is what remains after a star exhausts its nuclear fuel and dies.
These stellar remnants are typically about the size of Earth and have extremely high density.
White dwarfs contrast with black holes, which are formed from the collapse of massive stars and have near-infinitely dense singularities at their centers.
You might also come across some antonyms for the term “black hole.” These include:
The following antonyms are commonly used when referring to black holes:
|Fullness||This term suggests a state of completeness or abundance, contrasting the intense gravitational pull of a black hole.|
|Liberty||A state of being free or unconstrained, contrasting the inescapable nature of a black hole.|
|Peace||A sense of calm and tranquility, contrasting the violent and chaotic environment surrounding a black hole.|
|Freedom||The absence of external constraints or limitations, contrasting the intense gravity of black holes and their inescapability.|