In New 'Ask a Spaceman' Episode, Black Holes Are Doomed to Die

We're back into the weird science of black holes in this week's installment of "Ask a Spaceman." In this episode, astrophysicist and columnist Paul Sutter explains why a black hole is doomed to die from the moment that it is born.

This week's episode (which you can watch here ) is the second entry in a two-part series about black holes and Episode 5 of an ongoing series on Facebook Watch that is produced in partnership with To make sure you understand what's going on in Episode 5, we recommend you catch up on Episode 4 first, which covered the theory of black holes more generally.

While we think of the vacuum of space as empty, on the quantum scale — the scale of subatomic particles — that vacuum is actually vibrating with energy, Sutter said. Or as he put it, "Basically, space-time itself is buzzing a little bit." Sutter explained a little more about this energy in a past column about black holes, which you can read here.

Sutter then gave his interpretation of physicist Stephen Hawking's theories about how black holes die. As a black hole is forming from a massive gravitational collapse in space, such as through a star's dying supernova explosion, the black hole's gravity drags some of the quantum "fuzz" with it, Sutter explained.

When this happens, some of the quantum particles from the vacuum get trapped at the boundary of the black hole. They are close enough to orbit the black hole but not close enough to be trapped forever — which, yes, seems to shatter our illusion that nothing escapes from black holes. Eventually, the particles escape and, over time, sap enough energy that the black hole disintegrates.

"Ask a Spaceman" episodes are released weekly on Wednesdays at 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT), so "like" the Facebook page or check back later to see more. Sutter also responds to reader questions in every episode. Check the page to learn more about past topics covered in the show, such as the Big Bang and Pluto.

Sutter is a cosmologist at The Ohio State University and chief scientist at Columbus Ohio's Center of Science and Industry. He has a long-running podcast, also called "Ask a Spaceman." You can catch all past episodes here.

Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: