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Name: Brian
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Question:
From what I have read about black holes, they are believed to be very hot. However, from what I know about temperature it is a measure of internal kinetic energy. I also know that the hotter an atom gets the more the electrons move. Therefore I do not understand how a black hole can be "hot". If all of the subatomic particles are completely condensed there would be no room for the electrons to move around. Sort of like a subatomic particle gridlock. I would agree that black holes have tremendous amounts of potential energy. With all of that mass, E=MC^2 would prove it would have a lot of energy. Another definition of temperature I have learned is that it is a measurement of how much energy an object gives off. Which once again conflicts with what I have learned about black holes. I thought the only thing that escapes a black hole is Hawking radiation, which happens at the event horizon not the black hole itself. Thank you for your time. I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on black hole temperature.



Replies:
Brian,

There are two kinds of motion. One is the more easy-to-see motion that takes something from one place to another. This motion is often quite organized, sometimes even a straight line. This is not the motion that corresponds to temperature. The other kind is vibration. This is usually quite random. This is the motion that temperature represents. Although particles in a black hole are quite close together, they still vibrate. The particles do not actually touch. Even in an atomic nucleus, the protons and neutrons do not touch. They bounce and shiver around. The energy that would have been in the orbits of the electrons is now in the vibrations of all the particles. There can even be some vibrations in the entire star. This would be like hitting a water balloon and seeing the balloon change shape over and over. Vibrations like this can also occur.

Dr. Ken Mellendorf



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