NASA has revealed a stunning and mind-bending simulation of what it would look like to fall into a black hole.

The terrifying journey is one that (hopefully) none of us will ever make – but you can now pretend courtesy of a new video.

Nasa has simulated a view that you'll never want to see in real life


Nasa has simulated a view that you’ll never want to see in real lifeCredit: YouTube/ NASA Goddard

Nasa’s visualization follows a camera as it approaches, orbits, and ultimately crosses the event horizon: the “point of no return“.

It takes place in a monstrous supermassive black hole like Sagittarius A*, the one at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.

“Thanks to a new, immersive visualization produced on a NASA supercomputer, viewers can plunge into the event horizon, a black hole’s point of no return,” Nasa’s blog explained.

There are two videos released as a pair of simulations.

The first details a plunge into the black hole, while the second sees the viewer narrowly escape.

“People often ask about this, and simulating these difficult-to-imagine processes helps me connect the mathematics of relativity to actual consequences in the real universe,” said Nasa astrophysicist Jeremy Schnittman.

“So I simulated two different scenarios, one where a camera — a stand-in for a daring astronaut — just misses the event horizon and slingshots back out.

“And one where it crosses the boundary, sealing its fate.”

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The supermassive black hole in the video is 4.3 million times the mass of Earth‘s Sun.

Terrifying Nasa simulation lets you ‘plunge’ into black hole to ‘point of no return’ that would rip your body apart

That might sound terrifying, but Schnittman says it’s actually much better to fall into this kind of black hole than a smaller one.

“If you have the choice, you want to fall into a supermassive black hole,” Schnittman explained.

“Stellar-mass black holes, which contain up to about 30 solar masses,  possess much smaller event horizons and stronger tidal forces, which can rip apart approaching objects before they get to the horizon.”

Nasa explains: “This occurs because the gravitational pull on the end of an object nearer the black hole is much stronger than that on the other end.

If an astronaut flew a spacecraft on this 6-hour round trip while her colleagues on a mothership remained far from the black hole, she’d return 36 minutes younger than her colleagues.

Jeremy SchnittmanAstrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland

“Infalling objects stretch out like noodles, a process astrophysicists call spaghettification.”


The event horizon in this video is roughly 16 million miles wide – and is surrounded by a disk of hot swirling gas.

In the simulation, the camera begins around 400 million miles away.

If you've ever wanted to plunge into a black hole, your wish has been (sort of) granted


If you’ve ever wanted to plunge into a black hole, your wish has been (sort of) grantedCredit: YouTube/ NASA Goddard

Normally it would take around three hours for the camera to fall to the event horizon – completing nearly two 30-minute orbits.

But Nasa notes: “To anyone observing from afar, it would never quite get there.

“As space-time becomes ever more distorted closer to the horizon, the image of the camera would slow and then seem to freeze just shy of it.

“This is why astronomers originally referred to black holes as ‘frozen stars’.”

What is a black hole? The key facts

Here’s what you need to know…

  • A black hole is a region of space where absolutely nothing can escape
  • That’s because they have extremely strong gravitational effects, which means once something goes into a black hole, it can’t come back out
  • They get their name because even light can’t escape once it’s been sucked in – which is why a black hole is completely dark

What is an event horizon?

  • There has to be a point at which you’re so close to a black hole you can’t escape
  • Otherwise, literally everything in the universe would have been sucked into one
  • The point at which you can no longer escape from a black hole’s gravitational pull is called the event horizon
  • The event horizon varies between different black holes, depending on their mass and size

What is a singularity?

  • The gravitational singularity is the very centre of a black hole
  • It’s a one-dimensional point that contains an incredibly large mass in an infinitely small space
  • At the singularity, space-time curves infinitely, and the gravitational pull is infinitely strong
  • Conventional laws of physics stop applying at this point

How are black holes created?

  • Most black holes are made when a supergiant star dies
  • This happens when stars run out of fuel – like hydrogen – to burn, causing the star to collapse
  • When this happens, gravity pulls the center of the star inwards quickly and collapses into a tiny ball
  • It expands and contracts until one final collapse, causing part of the star to collapse inward thanks to gravity, and the rest of the star to explode outwards
  • The remaining central ball is extremely dense, and if it’s especially dense, you get a black hole

At that point, the laws of physics as we understand them begin to break down.

“Once the camera crosses the horizon, its destruction by spaghettification is just 12.8 seconds away,” Schnittman explains.

“From there, it’s only 79,500 miles (128,000 kilometers) to the singularity. This final leg of the voyage is over in the blink of an eye.”


In the second video, the camera doesn’t cross the event horizon.

And if the camera was a person in a spacecraft, the situation becomes even stranger.

Nasa notes: “If an astronaut flew a spacecraft on this 6-hour round trip while her colleagues on a mothership remained far from the black hole, she’d return 36 minutes younger than her colleagues. That’s because time passes more slowly near a strong gravitational source and when moving near the speed of light.


And Schnittman adds: “This situation can be even more extreme.

“If the black hole were rapidly rotating, like the one shown in the 2014 movie ‘Interstellar,’ she would return many years younger than her shipmates.”

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