If you’re new to astronomy, as you may have finally decided to study the domain a bit in order to look and sound intellectual, you’re on the right path if you’ve added extra importance to black holes and wormholes. Those are two important chapters in astrophysics, and a lot of people mistake them for one another, unfortunately, or not.
Here’s a quick and harsh fact: The Universe is way too big and unpredictable. Even the brightest minds out there and the smartest astrophysicists and astronomers admit that we don’t know everything about our physical reality. But even so, the good news is that scientists never stop looking for answers! And maybe that’s the whole charm of scientific research, the simple fact that we don’t know everything. What would be the point of scientific research if we could understand how all that ‘big stuff’ out there works, such as the galaxies, the planets, dark matter, dark energy, etc?
But let’s head back to our main topic: black holes vs. wormholes. Let’s learn a bit about their main differences to be sure that we’ll never mistake them again:
Black holes and wormholes: how to define them
First of all, we need to define black holes and wormholes as accurately as possible. Black holes are infinitely dense points in space. They are so dense and compact that their gravity has gone bananas, meaning that nothing can escape their gravitational pull, not even light. In other words, it would be a terrible idea to drive a rocket near a black hole, as it would rapidly be absorbed by it. Black holes are capable of disintegrating entire stars and planets if they come too close.
Black holes are of three main types: stellar mass, supermassive, and intermediate-mass. A black hole is born after a very massive star collapses into itself and generates an explosion.
As for wormholes, these cosmic objects are, first of all, hypothetical shortcuts through time and space. In other words, we can’t know for sure yet if they exist or not, but the mathematical calculations indicate that they must be out there, somewhere in the Cosmos. Wormholes can connect two very distant points in time, which means that if we even jump into one, we may be able to reach a different solar system or even a different galaxy in an instant. As you’ve already guessed, wormholes can help us a lot in our space exploration if they exist.
Black holes are destructive, wormholes are not
It’s important to keep in mind that black holes are generally destructive, while we can’t say the same about wormholes. We also ‘said’ generally because there’s an exception. Black holes will most probably destroy us if we go near them because of their infinite gravity, while wormholes are ‘doors’ to other regions of space.
But let’s talk about that exception. Some black holes can have positive roles in the Universe. In fact, without the supermassive black hole known as Sagittarius A that exists at the core of our Milky Way galaxy, we might not even be here right now to try to understand black holes. That’s because Sagittarius A has a huge gravity that allows for our galaxy to take shape around it, thus creating a hospitable galaxy.
The structure of a black hole is different from that of a wormhole. Black holes have a singularity at their center, which is surrounded by the event horizon. The singularity is the point of infinite density, and it’s also the place where the laws of nature, as scientists know them, no longer play by their own rules.
As for wormholes, they are hypothetical structures with two ends, with each of those ends located in different regions of spacetime. There’s also a “throat” of a wormhole that connects the two ends.
To understand wormholes in a better way, imagine the Universe as a sheet of paper. Let’s say you want to go from point A, which is Earth, to point B, which is another planet from another galaxy far, far away. You want to go to that other planet to ask aliens to tell you the secret for eternal youth. The distance is way more than our current technology can handle, which means that it would take forever to go from point A to point B. Instead of trying to reach that distance in a straight line as you would normally do, you can bend the Universe (in our case, the sheet of paper) and connect the two points with a pencil that pierces the paper. That’s what a wormhole basically is: a shortcut through spacetime.
How to obtain one
If you need a black hole (God forbid), all you have to do is observe a massive star that is about to die. After the supernova phase, a black hole will emerge, but the problem is that it will take a much longer time than any person’s lifespan to observe a star through such phases.
As for a wormhole, as we said, we’re not even sure that it exists. But it could be possible to create one in a lab if humanity finds a way to generate a humongous amount of energy, more than it has ever generated throughout its long history. While that is also out of the question, we could only hope for a superintelligent extraterrestrial civilization to somehow create one for us. Obviously, this latter scenario is also extremely farfetched, as we’re not even sure that superintelligent aliens exist. The point is that there could be a way to create a wormhole, which could grant us the portal we need to visit other galaxies and maybe even other universes.
You got the main idea: there are important and huge differences between black holes and wormholes. Perhaps the biggest difference is that, at least in the case of black holes, we know for sure that they exist, which cannot be said about wormholes.
Tommy’s hobby has always been playing video games. He enjoys competing in video games tournaments and writing about his experience. It’s not a big surprise that he mostly covers the latest trends from the gaming industry.