Can the Earth be swallowed by a black hole? And can black holes — with their immense destructive power — themselves be destroyed?
Millions apparently want to know, and a Harvard postdoctoral fellow and black-hole expert is providing the answers in educational videos that have been translated into more than two dozen languages and viewed more than 4 million times.
The fellow is Fabio Pacucci, a theoretical astrophysicist studying the universe’s very earliest black holes. Pacucci, whose appointment is held jointly with Harvard’s Black Hole Initiative and the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, is developing theories to explain observations of distant, ultra-bright quasars — powered by the supermassive black holes that occupy the center of galaxies — that arose a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, some 13 billion years ago.
“It seems they formed too quickly, too rapidly, to be explained by our current idea of the universe,” Pacucci said.
In addition to figuring out astronomical mysteries, however, Pacucci has a strong interest in science education.
“I believe it’s a very important part of the job of a scientist,” Pacucci said. “It’s part of being curious. If you want future scientists … you need people able to explain things that may be difficult.”