I am writing a script for science fiction RPG where everything takes place in a science station orbiting a black hole just outside the Schwarzschild radius. But it occurred to me I have no idea what kind of scientific experiments or observations would need such a station. We can't receive any data from the blackhole anyway.

So, would such station have a purpose? What kind of experiments could scientists perform there that they couldn't anywhere else in Space? What kind of (current) hypothesis could they test? What kind of observations they could perform? Does the kind/size of black hole matter in this respect? Thanks a bunch!


closed as too broad by Alex2006, Mołot, Rekesoft, Separatrix, Frostfyre Jan 28 at 14:01

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Hi and welcome to Worldbuilding! I can think of plenty of things to experiment, for example, throw a wireless camera, the most expensive one that can capture everything clearly at great distances, into the black hole, this way we can have answer on what really happens when a object enters a black hole. Would you mind if you put something specific? What experiments do you want to happen, are you asking a list of experiments? because that would be broad. This site is one question one answer only if you may. $\endgroup$ – Mr.J Jan 28 at 7:29
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    $\begingroup$ Hello and welcome. Please be more specific and focus on a single question. Currently, the many questions you are asking are simpley too broad. $\endgroup$ – Alex2006 Jan 28 at 7:51
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    $\begingroup$ What you're asking for here is an open ended list, which isn't considered suitable for this format. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jan 28 at 13:59
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    $\begingroup$ Too broad? Its all one question: "what research purpose can a space station have around a Black hole?". He just gives different possible aspects for this same question. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jan 28 at 15:47
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    $\begingroup$ @GodfreyofBouillon, You misunderstand. You didn't ask whether or not scientists would find it useful. You asked what uses scientists would have for it. Without criteria for judging the best answer, that's an infinitely long list where no one answer is any better than another. Requests for infinitely long lists are off-topic here. based on the help center statement. A finite list of things is on-topic, but you must provide the limiting criteria. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jan 28 at 23:45

All Things Gravitic

I'll have to find the researcher who suggested that fluctuating space-time can drastically reduce the energy requirement for gravitic manipulations, such as the Alcubierre FTL drive.

Near a steep, rapidly fluctuating gravity well is exactly where you want to test that. If true, it could result in FTL (or next-generation more power efficient FTL), artificial gravity, gravitic communication, gravitic computation, gravity lasers. In short, all things gravitic.

Quantum Mechanics

And it's important to remember that, from a materials perspective, a singularity is a rapidly spinning grinding wheel composed of soft gel at the far edges and impossibly rock-hard, razor-sharp, space-time as you get closer to the singularity itself.

It might not be necessary to build a huge accelerator to bust subatomic particles. Instead of accelerating particles to near the speed of light and driving them into one another, shoot a particle towards the event horizon at an angle and let the event horizon rip it to shreds. Use an angle sufficiently shallow that the results of the interaction are observable.

Spontaneous Generation of Matter and Anti-Matter

You could observe the spontaneous creation of matter and anti-matter to learn how to produce either or both on-demand at industrial scales.

Looking Inside Color Confinement

At these high-energies it may be possible to look at quarks inside the color confinement properties that keep them quarks from being isolated and studied individually. We suspect a great deal about how the strong nuclear force works, but a lab on the edge of a singularity would open up the ability to test these hypothesis cheaply (it could be done with a large enough terrestrial collider also)

Mass Manipulation

You could use this to perform studies of the Higgs field, and what causes things to have mass. How mass seems to be coupled to gravity can be confirmed and studied in greater detail.

Negative Energy and Negative Mass

If negative mass or negative energy particles are spontaneously created and destroyed in some small amount, a lab on the edge of a black hole is the place to look for them.

The Granularity of Space-Time

So far, all experiments done have indicated that while electro-magnetic and strong/weak nuclear forces have quantum behavior: that is everything has discrete behavior - one unit, two, three...; but space-time itself has appeared in every experiment to be smooth. It may be possible near a singularity to test this smoothness more rigorously. I'm not sure what quantum space-time would prove, but it would change a lot of things.

Compactified Dimensions

It should be possible, under the extreme energy conditions, to construct at least a few experiments to probe compactified dimensions. The math predicts either none, 10, or 11. How many are there, really? Do they exist at all? What does it mean (new ways of storing data at higher densities, communication, travel)?

Faster than Light Travel / Communications

If the world you are building does not yet have it, all theories of faster-than-light travel assume some compactified dimension of space-time that can be exploited ("hyper-space" literally "extra space") to skip over the places in between Point A and Point B. If you can prove compactified dimensions, you can determine if such an exploit is possible. Or, since the dimensions are compactified (small), they might not provide any such skip-over (but might have other interesting properties).

Materials Science

The black hole may not have consumed all of the matter near it. The behavior of high-energy plasmas in the accumulation belt may be interesting. There may be all sorts of new elements and chemicals in the far-flung debris field away from the hole. Some smaller (asteroid-sized) chunks of degenerate neutron-star like material may have been ejected in the birth of the black hole, and available for capture and study.

  • $\begingroup$ Apparently a Black hole does not create matter and anti-matter, but positive and negative particles (there's a difference). So you should scrap the "look into matter/anti-matter creation" part. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jan 28 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ Positrons are anti-electrons. $\endgroup$ – James McLellan Jan 28 at 20:43

Hawkins radiation observation

Stuff does come out of black holes.

Hawking radiation is blackbody radiation that is predicted to be released by black holes, due to quantum effects near the event horizon. It is named after the physicist Stephen Hawking, who provided a theoretical argument for its existence in 1974.

Lots of science and new discoveries to be made from those.

High energy experiments

Ditch those particle colliders on Earth. Some black holes have accretion discs that output a lot of energy.

(...) TON 618 is believed to be an accretion disc of intensely hot gas swirling around a giant black hole in the center of a galaxy. The light originating from the quasar is estimated to be 10.4 billion years old. The surrounding galaxy is not visible from Earth, because the quasar itself outshines it. With an absolute magnitude of −30.7, it shines with a luminosity of 4×1040 watts, or as brilliantly as 140 trillion Suns(...).

But mainly, material science

(...)a science station orbiting a black hole just outside the Schwarzschild radius(...)

Your station is probably made of unobtanium.

In astrophysics, spaghettification (sometimes referred to as the noodle effect) is the vertical stretching and horizontal compression of objects into long thin shapes (rather like spaghetti) in a very strong non-homogeneous gravitational field; it is caused by extreme tidal forces. In the most extreme cases, near black holes, the stretching is so powerful that no object can withstand it, no matter how strong its components(...)

So you may as well play challenge accepted with physics. You will also need the station to generate a handwavium field to keep people and stuff in it from breaking into subatomical particles.

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    $\begingroup$ "Your station is probably made of unobtanium." Not necessarily. If the black hole is sufficiently large, the station could even descend quite a bit past the event horizon before being affected by tidal forces (though of course it would be irreparably doomed). $\endgroup$ – AngelPray Jan 28 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ It depends on how close the OP means the station is. Is it going to be "stick your arm out of the airlock and touch the event horizon" then yes, but it could be close in astronomical measures. I would add research in energy generation by letting things fall into the Black hole and using Hawking radiation to generate energy to complete this answer. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jan 28 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ @AngelPray how big would thr black hole have to be to allow for that? $\endgroup$ – Renan Jan 28 at 14:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Renan if you read the Wikipedia's article you copypasted till the end, it explains it with examples. For a supermassive black hole event horizon is nothing special in terms of tidal forces and I definitely wouldnt need any unobtainium. Even if it's "stick your arm and touch it" distance. $\endgroup$ – Godfrey of Bouillon Jan 31 at 8:58

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