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

The Question

(Submitted November 27, 2002)

Are Black holes five-dimensional? I was wondering because if Einstein said to consider space to be a fabric called Space-time, and black holes literally make a hole in space. What if we went under a black hole and nothing happens? Does that mean that black holes are five dimensional or are they in thier own category?

The Answer

Thanks for your excellent question. Actually, the dimensions of a black hole are indeed complicated due to the effects of the strong gravitational force. Inside the black hole, time becomes a "dimension," giving rise to the 4-dimensional term we are familiar with, space-time. See our answer for the black hole volume for example: http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/answers/970808.html

However, nobody really knows how many dimensions make up the universe --this is still a very exciting field of research. It turns out that black holes may be able to provide clues to help astronomers estimate the number of dimensions that make up the universe, since these extra dimensions are only "felt" during very energetic processes such as inside a black hole! In fact, there are several experiments searching for clues to the extra dimensions both at particle accelerators and with high energy cosmic rays. See the following websites to learn about these experiments.

http://www.nature.com/nsu/011004/011004-8.html (accelerators)
http://focus.aps.org/story/v9/st3 (cosmic rays)

Hope this helps,
Georgia & Veronica
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: Thursday, 01-Dec-2005 13:58:37 EST