The amount of energy given off by a black hole could be enough to support life, expanding the possibilities of where humans should search for extraterrestrials. NASA astrophysicist Jeremy Schnittman based his research on the hit Hollywood movie Interstellar, in which the main character, played by Matthew McConaughey, goes in search of a habitable planet for humans to live on as Earth is dying. In the 2014 movie, the scientists discovered planets orbiting a black hole which could sustain life. Mr Schnittman wanted to test the real-life feasibility of this.
The scientist said accretion discs, made up of materials and objects orbiting a black hole, could allow life to exist.
The friction generated by these discs as they are pushed and shoved by the extreme gravitational force is so large that it can produce a tremendous amount of energy, depending on the size of the black hole.
While the Sun gives Earth energy through light and heat, the radiation and energy from the accretion discs might prove just as valuable.
Mr Schnittman wrote in the paper published in the journal arXiv: “On the down side, the Sun provides almost all the energy necessary for life on Earth to survive. Without it’s constant heat flux, the oceans would likely freeze over in a matter of days.
“But we also know that many astrophysical black holes can provide their own energy source, in the form of radiation from hot, accreting gas.
“In fact, for most observable black holes, this accretion power outweighs anything attainable from nuclear fusion by many orders of magnitude.
“So one could naturally imagine that replacing the Sun with an accreting black hole might not be the end of life on Earth after all.”
However, the NASA scientist noted the energy and radiation coming from a black hole would be potentially “lethal” to any life.
Instead, our star will expand dramatically after it has used its supply of hydrogen in around 5 billion years, before it condenses into a white dwarf which is essentially the corpse of a star.
Secondly, the nearest black hole is way too far for humans to reach, let alone allow humans to spot planets orbiting, making them an impossible destination for humanity’s next home.
The nearest black hole to our planet is located 6,523 light-years away – one light-year is 5.88 trillion miles.
The farthest humans have been from Earth is 248,655 miles (400,171 km) in 1970 as part of NASA’s Apollo 13 mission when the craft swung around the far side of the moon – it took almost three days to get there.