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

The Question

(Submitted September 12, 2001)

At the center of a black hole the singularity point has zero volume and infinite density. I know that the singularity is a point in space rather than an object with specific dimensions, but how is it possible for something to have zero volume and infinite density?

The Answer

This is indeed difficult to grasp. Actually at the center of a black hole spacetime has infinite curvature and matter is crushed to infinite density under the pull of infinite gravity. At a singularity, space and time cease to exist as we know them. The laws of physics as we know them break down at a singularity, so it's not really possible to envision something with infinite density and zero volume. You might check out the web site for further information on black holes and singularities:
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/htmltest/rjn_bht.html.

Hope this helps,
Georgia & Koji
For "Ask an Astrophysicist"

Previous question
Prev
Main topic
Main
Next question
Next

If words seem to be missing from the articles, please read this.

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
Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
Curator: Meredith Gibb
Responsible NASA Official: Phil Newman
All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2014.
This page last updated: Tuesday, 24-Aug-2010 16:33:01 EDT