Welcome to your weekly existential crisis, courtesy of NASA.
In this latest episode of awe-inspiring and somewhat unnerving content, the space agency has shared a mesmerizing video that illustrates just how massive black holes actually are.
“These monsters lurk in the centers of most big galaxies, including our own Milky Way, and contain between 100,000 and tens of billions of times more mass than our Sun,” NASA shares in an explanation of the video, adding that the animation “highlights the ‘super’ in supermassive black holes.”
The video, released by the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab, shows the gargantuan scale of black holes in comparison to other celestial features, most notably the Sun.
Viewers are treated to a mind-bending comparison of how these black holes compare in size to our solar system and to each other.
In just over 90 seconds, the animation tours 10 black holes of increasing size. Some of the holes are so big they make our solar system look like a speck of dust.
“Only one of these colossal objects resides in our own galaxy, and it lies 26,000 light-years away,” the agency wrote, referring to supermassive black hole Sagittarius A*, which was first photographed just last year.
Real and conceptual images of black holes don’t actually show the black hole itself, but rather a luminous disc surrounding the hole that’s comprised of gas and dusk, called an “accretion disc.”
This immensely hot disc is swirly rapidly around the black hole and while some of it will fall in and never be seen again, most of it gets spit back out.
“Black holes are terrible at eating things. They are notoriously picky eaters,” Douglas Gobeille, an astrophysicist and black hole researcher at the University of Rhode Island, told Mashable last year.
Over on Twitter, NASA Universe is hosting Black Hole Week, sharing cool facts about these massive cosmic bodies and bringing in experts to answer questions.