It’s thought getting sucked into a black hole would be one of the most painful deaths in the universe. 

Just like any other infalling object, you would be violently stretched out like a noodle in a process astrophysicists call spaghettification. 

Now, an incredible new animation from NASA shows what we’d see in our final moments if we could ever reach such a void. 

The clip, produced on a NASA supercomputer, shows a first-person plunge towards a supermassive black hole’s ‘event horizon’ – its dreaded point of no return.

Although it’s not showing a specific black hole, in terms of size it’s roughly equivalent to the monster located at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy

Ever wonder what happens when you fall into a black hole? Now, thanks to a new animation from NASA, viewers can plunge into the event horizon, a black hole's point of no return

Ever wonder what happens when you fall into a black hole? Now, thanks to a new animation from NASA, viewers can plunge into the event horizon, a black hole’s point of no return 

As the video begins and the 'camera' approaches the void, we can see the bright orange 'accretion disk' with a starry galaxy in the backround

As the video begins and the ‘camera’ approaches the void, we can see the bright orange ‘accretion disk’ with a starry galaxy in the backround

What are black holes? 

Perhaps one of the scariest features of the universe are black holes – regions of spacetime where gravity pulls so much that even light can not get out.

Black holes act as intense sources of gravity that hoover up surrounding dust and gas, as well as planets and even other black holes. 

They are often described as ‘destructive monsters’ because they tear apart stars, consuming anything that comes too close, and hold light captive. 

With light unable to escape black holes, Earth would have little chance either. 

NASA scientists created the animation on the Discover supercomputer at the NASA Center for Climate Simulation in Greenbelt, Maryland. 

The project generated about 10 terabytes of data – equivalent to roughly half of the estimated text content in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

‘This new, immersive visualization produced on a NASA supercomputer represents a scenario where a camera just misses the event horizon and slingshots back out,’ says the space agency. 

‘The destination is a supermassive black hole with 4.3 million times the mass of our sun, equivalent to the monster located at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy.’ 

As the video begins and the ‘camera’ approaches the void, we can see the bright orange ‘accretion disk’ – a hot disk of gas orbiting the black hole and its main source of light.

The accretion disk is created by material emitting energy as it falls into the black hole, whether it’s gas, dust or matter. 

We can also see the thinner photon sphere – a thin ring of light that forms closer to the black hole’s ‘event horizon’.

The term ‘event horizon’, which famously spawned the sci-fi disaster film of the same name in 1997, is the point at which nothing, not even light, can escape. 

Inside the black hole: The bright orange 'accretion disk' (top) and the photon sphere (bottom) - the thin ring of light appearing at the edge of the event horizon shadow

Inside the black hole: The bright orange ‘accretion disk’ (top) and the photon sphere (bottom) – the thin ring of light appearing at the edge of the event horizon shadow

An annotated black hole: Right at the centre is the event horizon - the point at which nothing, not even light, can escape

An annotated black hole: Right at the centre is the event horizon – the point at which nothing, not even light, can escape

The simulated black hole’s event horizon spans about 16 million miles (25 million kilometers), or about 17 per cent of the distance from Earth to our sun. 

After posting the video on YouTube, internet users described the clip as ‘impressive, ‘beautiful’ and ‘so cool’. 

One commented: ‘Black Holes are such a fascinating part of space, and i find them insanely cool, but man do they unlock a deep fear within me.’

Another said: ‘Why does this feel scary, like my instinct kicks in to avoid this.’

Yet another said it was ‘like I nearly went down a cosmic drain’, while someone else joked, ‘all engines full reverse!’ 

According to NASA, the first-person perspective provided by the hypothetical ‘camera’ is hugely sped up – it manages to reach 60 per cent the speed of light.   

The camera is supposed to represent the viewpoint of an astronaut if we could ever reach a black hole, which at the moment is impossible.

Pictured, the black hole at the heart of the galaxy Messier 87 (M87). The stunning image was released earlier this year

Pictured, the black hole at the heart of the galaxy Messier 87 (M87). The stunning image was released earlier this year 

What is spaghettification?

Spaghettification is the scientific term for what happens to someone falling towards a black hole.

If you were dropping into a black hole feet first, you would discover that the gravitational pull on your feet was greater than that on your head because your feet are closer to the black hole’s centre of mass.

What initially would be an irritation would become a painful and irresistible force, stretching your body longer and longer until you became a long, pink spaghetti-like structure.

Xavier Calmet, a professor of physics at the University of Sussex, said the gravitational force of a black hole would become so strong that we would experience ‘spaghettification’. 

‘Your body will be stretched into a shape similar to that of a long pasta until it is reaped apart by the strong gravitational force,’ Professor Calmet told MailOnline. 

‘I can’t imagine that this would be pleasant – it would happen rather quickly, so if painful, it is unlikely to last long.’ 

Dr David L Clements, a senior lecturer at Imperial College London’s physics department, said ‘the end would likely be quick’ if falling into a black hole.  

‘It could come from asphyxiation if the atmosphere is stripped, or from the process called spaghettification where tidal forces stretch everything out into long strings – maybe briefly painful,’ he said. 

Thankfully, the chances of Earth ever being swallowed by a black hole are ‘nearly zero’, according to Dr Clements. 

‘The fact that we’re still here shows that this hasn’t happened over the whole history of the Earth,’ he told MailOnline.

‘So the chances are at least less than once every 4.5 billion years and likely much much less.’ 

The closest black hole to Earth, called Gaia BH1, is around 1,600 light years away and is 10 times the size as our sun.
Researchers recently revealed the second-closest known black hole to Earth, which is about 1,500 light-years away. 


Black holes are among the most fascinating and fiercely debated objects in the universe.

They have captured the public’s imagination for decades, partly thanks to the late Stephen Hawking, who transformed them from a difficult-to-understand scientific theory to a source of mysterious wonder.

Mysterious: Black holes are among the most fascinating and fiercely debated objects in the universe (stock image)

Mysterious: Black holes are among the most fascinating and fiercely debated objects in the universe (stock image)

They have also percolated popular culture through sci-fi magazines, Star Trek and Hollywood blockbusters.

But what are the five most bizarre and captivating theories about black holes that are so unfathomable the mind boggles?

Here MailOnline takes a look.

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