Why don’t black holes ignite?

What's the matter? Black holes are still rather mysterious. 

2nd July 2017
Why don’t black holes ignite? (Getty)

Asked by: Ray Sudbury, Mansfield

Physics cannot yet describe the kind of material that ordinary matter becomes once it is inside a black hole’s event horizon. However, one thing is certain; matter does not survive in a form containing atoms. The usual particles of ordinary matter, electrons, protons and neutrons, have all combined into other particles or broken apart completely into quarks (or ‘preons’). They may have been squeezed into a mere quantum probability, or not be ‘matter’ at all! Given that black holes are not made of regular matter, there is no process (nuclear fusion for example) by which they can ‘ignite’.


SFQASubscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun facts.