Answer 1:
Great questions! I am predominantly a materials
scientist, which means I work at the other end of
the distance scale with atoms, but I will try to
point you to some resources that can explain more
about black holes without going too much into the
math.
A black hole is a region in SpaceTime (these
become axes of the same space in General
Relativity) where the pull of gravity is just so
large, nothing, not even light can escape from it
once past what is known as the 'event
horizon.' It arises as a mathematical
singularity, which is like a divergence of
SpaceTime. (If you have ever plotted 1/x, you'll
notice one such singularity at the origin where
the function diverges.) Physically
Our current theories about black holes tells us
that once stable, a black hole has three
independent physical properties: mass, charge, and
angular momentum. What happens when you put
a black hole near other objects in the universe?
a) Whether a black hole is able to "suck in"
another planet has mostly to do if that planet is
near the 'event horizon', which is the area around
the black hole where nothing can escape from its
clutches. The radius of the 'event horizon', known
as the Schwarzchild radius, is dependent on
the mass of the black hole. A larger mass means a
larger Schwarzchild radius. Beyond this radius,
the black hole looks like any other object with
the same mass (and one of the other two
independent properties). So it is entirely
conceivable that a black hole could "eat" an
object much larger than itself. In fact, this
is been observed with system known as
Cygnus X1
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