Imagine the Universe!
Imagine Home  |   Ask an Astrophysicist  |  
Ask an Astrophysicist

The Question

(Submitted March 01, 1997)

If white holes eject matter so quickly, why do they exist ? Wouldn't they destroy themselves? Maybe they are at the other end of a black hole ?

The Answer

White holes are VERY hypothetical. They are, in fact, predicted as a possible "other end" of a black hole that has punctured a "worm hole" through space, but black holes are most likely just a point in space without an other side. The matter/energy coming out of white holes is supposedly the matter falling into a black hole. I have only seen them discussed in theoretical physics talks. At one point scientists speculated that quasars may be white holes, but now we are fairly certain that quasars are powered by supermassive black holes, in which case the light we see comes from matter as it falls into the black hole. After it falls in, we assume the matter just becomes part of the black hole and does not come out anywhere (see the Basic or Advanced discussions of active galactic nuclei in Imagine the Universe! for more on this.)

Andy Ptak

Previous question
Main topic
Next question

Imagine the Universe is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Imagine Team
Acting Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2012.

DVD Table of Contents
Educator's Index