Stellar black holes — small but deadly

When a star burns through the last of its fuel, the object may collapse, or fall into itself. For smaller stars (those up to about three times the sun's mass), the new core will become a neutron star or a white dwarf. But when a larger star collapses, it continues to compress and creates a stellar black hole.

Black holes formed by the collapse of individual stars are relatively small, but incredibly dense. One of these objects packs more than three times the mass of the sun into the diameter of a city. This leads to a crazy amount of gravitational force pulling on objects around the object. Stellar black holes then consume the dust and gas from their surrounding galaxies, which keeps them growing in size.

Supermassive black holes — the birth of giants

Small black holes populate the universe, but their cousins, supermassive black holes, dominate. These enormous black holes are millions or even billions of times as massive as the sun, but are about the same size in diameter. Such black holes are thought to lie at the center of pretty much every galaxy, including the Milky Way.

Scientists aren't certain how such large black holes spawn. Once these giants have formed, they gather mass from the dust and gas around them, material that is plentiful in the center of galaxies, allowing them to grow to even more enormous sizes.

Intermediate black holes — stuck in the middle

Scientists once thought that black holes came in only small and large sizes, but recent research has revealed the possibility that midsize, or intermediate, black holes (IMBHs) could exist. Such bodies could form when stars in a cluster collide in a chain reaction. Several of these IMBHs forming in the same region could then eventually fall together in the center of a galaxy and create a supermassive black hole.

© BSCS 1-A Robylene Carl A. Carlos