Is there anything stranger in the universe than black holes? These bizarre, gravitational monstrosities don’t only warp space and time; just thinking about them stretches and bends people’s imaginations as well. And along with all the mind-boggling qualities you might have heard of — their prodigious mass, their incredibly small size — black holes have a ton of even more outlandish properties that are less well known. We take a look at some of the most astounding characteristics and theoretical possibilities regarding these cosmic oddities.
- Black Holes Might Have Hair
In the 1960s, physicist John Wheeler suggested that black holes “have no hair,” meaning that each particular cosmic object could only be distinguished from its brethren by its spin, angular momentum and mass. Any other differentiating information about a black hole is considered “hair,” and is thought to disappear behind a black hole’s impenetrable event horizon, a boundary around the black hole beyond which nothing, including light, can escape.
Cut to 2016, when famed physicist Stephen Hawking proposed that black holes actually sport an opulent hairdo made of ghostly, zero-energy particles, and that this hirsute agglomeration contains information about material the black hole has consumed. This hypothesis has not been proven, but could help solve a longstanding paradox about what happens to gas and dust that has fallen into a black hole’s maw.