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Astronomy science fair project:
Black Holes and Time

Science Fair Project Information
Title: Black Holes and Time
Subject: Astronomy / Physics
Grade level: Elementary school - grades 4-6
Project Type: Descriptive
Cost: Low
Awards: None
Affiliation: Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair
Link: http://www.virtualsciencefair.org/2004/guan4t0/public_html/
Short Background

A black hole is an object in the universe that has such a strong pull of gravity, even light can't escape it. Until recently, many astronomers did not even know if they existed, but by using telescopes and looking at the universe, they found objects with such a strong force that our current Standard Model can only explain with a black hole gravitational force. This won't exclude that the origin of such a strong force is something different than gravitational one.

A black hole is a theoretical region of space in which the gravitational field is so powerful that nothing, not even electromagnetic radiation (e.g. visible light), can escape its pull after having fallen past its event horizon. The term derives from the fact that the absorption of visible light renders the hole's interior invisible, and indistinguishable from the black space around it.

Despite its interior being invisible, a black hole may reveal its presence through an interaction with matter that lies in orbit outside its event horizon. For example, a black hole may be perceived by tracking the movement of a group of stars that orbit its center. Alternatively, one may observe gas (from a nearby star, for instance) that has been drawn into the black hole. The gas spirals inward, heating up to very high temperatures and emitting large amounts of radiation that can be detected from earthbound and earth-orbiting telescopes. Such observations have resulted in the general scientific consensus thatóbarring a breakdown in our understanding of natureóblack holes do exist in our universe.

Time dilation is the phenomenon whereby an observer finds that another's clock, which is physically identical to their own, is ticking at a slower rate as measured by their own clock. This is often interpreted as time "slowing down" for the other clock, but that is only true in the context of the observer's frame of reference. Locally (i.e., from the perspective of any observer within the same frame of reference, without reference to another frame of reference), time always passes at the same rate. The time dilation phenomenon applies to any process that manifests change over time.

Time dilation is taking place within the gravitational field of a black hole

See also: Black Holes

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)

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