Rights: The Royal Society, TVNZ 7 in partnership with the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology Published 15 December 2010 Download

This is a simple explanation of what a black hole is and how astronomers identify them.

This one minute animated video from TVNZ aims to demystifies commonly used, but little understood scientific and technological jargon.


What is a black hole?

Black holes are thought to form when a massive star runs out of fuel and collapses under the weight of its own gravity. The black hole’s gravitational pull is so extreme that it is even strong enough to prevent light escaping.

Since nothing can travel faster than light, nothing can escape from inside a black hole.

Physicists have discovered that near black holes space and time have many unusual properties – and this idea has inspired lot of science fiction stories.

We cannot see black holes because they absorb all the light that hits them - but we can detect their influence on the stars, gas, and even space around them. By observing these effects, astronomers have identified many black holes in the universe.

And that’s a black hole.