Physics KS3 / GCSE: What are Black Holes?

Professor Brian Cox explains what black holes are, and how we know about them despite the fact that they’re invisible.

Black holes are the most destructive forces in the universe, and can swallow whole stars.

We know they exist because of the effect they have on the surrounding space.

Brian uses Zambia’s spectacular Victoria Falls as an analogy to explain what happens as matter draws closer to a black hole’s event horizon.

Space flows faster and faster, as matter approaches, until the point that even light can no longer escape.

This clip is from the series Wonders of the Universe.

Teacher Notes

Students could extend the information in this clip to include the complete life cycle of stars.

They could draw a cartoon strip to show how a nebula forms a protostar as a result of gravity.

Then how the size of star determines how long the main sequence lasts for, and ultimately whether a supernova, black hole, black dwarf or white dwarf are formed.

Can students find out the future of our own star?

Curriculum Notes

This topic will be relevant to GCSE Physics in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 4 and 5 in Scotland.