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Ergosphere: A Unique Feature of Rotating Black Holes

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From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ergosphere

Mains level : Not Much

Ergosphere

Introduction

  • Rotating black holes, also known as Kerr black holes, possess a fascinating region called the ergosphere, which sets them apart from their non-rotating counterparts.

Formation of Black Holes

  • Origin: Black holes are born from massive stars that exhaust their nuclear fuel and undergo a supernova explosion. The remaining core collapses under its own gravitational force, forming a black hole.
  • Gravitational Singularity: At the core of a black hole lies a gravitational singularity, a point where the laws of general relativity cease to provide accurate predictions.
  • Event Horizon: Surrounding the singularity is the event horizon, a boundary beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape. It acts as a point of no return for anything entering it.

What is Ergosphere?

  • Ergosphere Description: Beyond the event horizon, rotating black holes feature another unique region known as the ergosphere. This region extends further out from the singularity, creating an additional sphere around the black hole.
  • Name Origins: The term ‘ergosphere’ finds its roots in the Greek word ‘ergon,’ which means ‘work.’ It earned this name due to the intriguing possibility it offers – the extraction of matter and energy from this region.

Characteristics of the Ergosphere

  • Intriguing Property: Unlike the event horizon, objects can enter the ergosphere and potentially escape from it, provided they move at speeds less than that of light.
  • Acceleration Potential: Some scientists have explored the idea of sending objects into the ergosphere to leverage their unique characteristics. Objects within the ergosphere can gain energy and momentum, effectively “borrowing” some of the black hole’s angular momentum.

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