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The Question

(Submitted January 29, 1997)

I was wondering, what would happen if a black hole passed THROUGH a star, lets say a B-O type star?

The Answer

This would depend on the mass of the black hole. Astrophysicists are fairly confident that there are supermassive black holes at the centers of many galaxies. These are millions of times more massive than the Sun, and are bigger than most stars. One of these supermassive black holes would tear the star apart and then accrete the gas. (See the Imagine the Universe! discussion on Active Galactic Nuclei for more information on these types of massive black holes.) We are also confident that very massive stars would end up as black holes, with masses 5-10 times that of the Sun. Collision of such a black hole and a normal star would be very violent, and may completely disrupt the normal star.

More speculatively, much lighter black holes may have been created shortly after the big bang. If a tiny black hole passed through the star, then the star may continue without much disruption.

Best wishes,
Koji Mukai

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