# If light approaches a black hole will it accelerate?

• hayden47
In summary, light does not have mass and therefore cannot be accelerated by a black hole's gravitational force.
hayden47
If light approaches a black hole will it accelerate? I think this question ties in with whether light has mass or not. Does light have mass? It seems accepted that light has momentum, but this is not consistent with saying that photons are mass-less (momentum=mass*volume). Could someone clear this up or is it actually a contradiction? Mass is a requirement for gravity also. I've always heard that not even light can escape a black hole which is gravitational force, so wouldn't a black hole have enough force to accelerate light?

hayden47 said:
Does light have mass? It seems accepted that light has momentum, but this is not consistent with saying that photons are mass-less (momentum=mass*volume).
Photons are massless. The relationship between energy, momentum, and mass is ##m^2 c^2=E^2/c^2-p^2##. For photons ##p=E/c## so the mass is 0 despite having both energy and momentum.

Oh I see. I'm still confused then of how gravity can affect light if it does not have mass (such as a black holes' effect on light).

Why should that matter?

First, Newtonian gravity is experimentally known to be wrong wrt the effect of gravity on light.

Second, in GR gravity curves spacetime and spacetime clearly affects light.

Third, even if you ignore the previous two points it takes 0 force to accelerate something without mass, so the fact that the Newtonian force is 0 doesn't imply that the acceleration is 0.

DaleSpam said:
First, Newtonian gravity is experimentally known to be wrong wrt the effect of gravity on light.

Second, in GR gravity curves spacetime and spacetime clearly affects light./QUOTE]The whole idea of Newtonian gravity is that gravity is the force that causes the attraction of masses and is caused by mass. Of course this would not work with light if it is massless. So perhaps it is accidentally correct when dealing with two masses.

GR gravity IS the curve of spacetime right? So if that is what is affecting the light and everything else, then I'm asking will a bend in spacetime as great as a black hole cause light accelerate?Sent from my iPhone using Physics Forums

Light does not accelerate. It always moves at c in a vacuum. It will, however, gain energy by falling into the gravity well and be blueshifted.

1 person
hayden47 said:
I've always heard that not even light can escape a black hole which is gravitational force, so wouldn't a black hole have enough force to accelerate light?

If you are imagining that the light that can't escape the BH is traveling away from the BH and being slowed down or stopped by the BH's gravitational acceleration... and therefore supposing that the reverse would be that the BH can accelerate light moving close or toward the BH, then maybe this line of thinking may be causing the problem.

Look for something about light cones, and how they change "orientation" around a BH.

Here is an example - http://www.phy.syr.edu/courses/modules/LIGHTCONE/schwarzschild.html

The light that can't escape the BH does not have a radial direction component away from the BH in its future light cone... the light cones can be oriented so that their "outer" edge is tangent to the event horizon.

(I've probably butched this description, but I think it is the concept needed here).

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Acceleration is a change in velocity. Velocity is a measurement of direction and speed. The website you pointed me to says "The Einstein Theory correctly predicted the amount of the deflection of starlight". Is this acceleration?

hayden47 said:
Acceleration is a change in velocity. Velocity is a measurement of direction and speed. The website you pointed me to says "The Einstein Theory correctly predicted the amount of the deflection of starlight". Is this acceleration?

No. As Drakkith said, light always travels at exactly c in a vacuum. It also always travels in a "straight line", BUT ... a "straight line" in a high gravity field is a "straight line in spacetime" and that is not quite what you normally mean by "straight line". The deflected path IS a "straight line in spacetime", which in more formal parlance is called a "geodesic".

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hayden47 said:
The whole idea of Newtonian gravity is that gravity is the force that causes the attraction of masses and is caused by mass
And how much force does it take to accelerate a massless object. What does Newtons 2nd law say?
hayden47 said:
Of course this would not work with light if it is massless.
Sure it would. Plug 0 in for the mass, what is the gravitational force? How does that compare to your answer above?

Newtonian gravity gives the wrong behavior for light, but not because of it being massless.

## 1. What is a black hole?

A black hole is a region of space where the gravitational pull is so strong that nothing, including light, can escape. It is formed when a massive star dies and collapses under its own weight.

## 2. How does light behave near a black hole?

Near a black hole, light is affected by the intense gravitational pull. It can be bent, stretched, and even trapped by the black hole's gravity. This can create interesting visual effects, like gravitational lensing.

## 3. Will light accelerate as it approaches a black hole?

Yes, light will accelerate as it approaches a black hole. This is because the gravitational pull of the black hole becomes stronger as you get closer to it, causing light to speed up as it gets pulled towards the black hole's singularity.

## 4. Can anything escape from a black hole?

No, once something crosses the event horizon of a black hole, it cannot escape. This includes light, which is why black holes are "black" and cannot be seen.

## 5. Is there a limit to how fast light can accelerate near a black hole?

Yes, there is a limit to how fast light can accelerate near a black hole. This limit is known as the speed of light, which is the fastest speed possible for any object in the universe. This means that even near a black hole, light cannot exceed the speed of light.

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