Miniature Black Holes May Be Hitting Earth Once Every 1,000 Years

A fanciful illustration of small black holes passing through EarthPhoto by NASA/Illustration by Dave Mosher

First, the good news: You have not been killed by a black hole.

The strange news is that it's possible the universe is teeming with microscopic black holes that formed at the dawn of time, all of them hurtling through space like cosmic bullets.

Some could weigh nearly as much as Earth's moon, others an asteroid, and still more somewhere in between. Whatever their weight, most would be smaller than the period in this sentence.

If this sounds like science fiction, it could be. But perhaps not.

Astrophysicists are running out of options to explain what most of the stuff in the universe is made of. They know roughly 80% of it is dark matter, which exerts a gravitational pull on the other 20% — "normal" matter — yet has remained invisible to experimentsfor more than 80 years.

Devices in space and undergroundhave sought out particles of dark matter for years, but have so far turned up empty.

Which is why researchers are turning to the (somewhat frightening) notion that we're surrounded by countless black holes that formed 13.8 billion years ago.

"On the dark matter particle side of the spectrum, the range of possibilities is narrowing down quickly," Alexander Kashlinsky, a cosmologist at NASA, previously told Business Insider. "If nothing is found there, and nothing is found in the black hole theater, then we may be in a crisis of science."

The hope and havoc of mini black holes

black holeAn artist's depiction of a large black hole.Alain Riazuelo of the French National Research Agency, via Wikipedia

To be clear, physicists aren't betting a lot chips on the existence of infinitesimal black holes.

As we've previously reported on Business Insider, the leading hunch is that dark matter particles do exist; it's just that this search has proven more difficult than anticipated.

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