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Has anything escaped a black hole?

Black holes are extremely dense regions in space with gravitational forces so strong that nothing can escape once it crosses the boundary known as the event horizon. Not even light can escape, which is why black holes are invisible. So in short, the answer is generally no – nothing has ever been observed escaping from a black hole.

What is a black hole?

A black hole is formed when a massive star runs out of fuel and collapses under its own gravity. The core of the star shrinks down to an infinitely small point with infinite density known as a singularity. The gravitational pull becomes so powerful that not even light can escape past the event horizon, which is the point of no return around the black hole.

Properties of black holes

Black holes have some key features:

  • Incredibly strong gravitational force – nothing can escape once it crosses the event horizon
  • Singularity – a point of infinite density and infinitesimally small volume where space and time cease to exist as we know it
  • Event horizon – the boundary around the black hole where the escape velocity equals the speed of light
  • Accretion disk – disk of gas and dust orbiting the black hole and heating up to millions of degrees from friction

Has anything ever escaped a black hole?

As far as scientists know, nothing has ever escaped from inside the event horizon of a black hole. The reason is that the gravitational force grows exponentially as you get closer to the center. Past the event horizon, the force is so strong that not even light can escape.

However, there are a few caveats to this:

  • Virtual particles – Quantum fluctuations at the event horizon may allow virtual particles to escape
  • Hawking radiation – Black holes emit radiation over time and lose mass
  • Outside the event horizon – Matter orbiting outside the horizon can escape if given sufficient velocity

Virtual particles

Due to quantum effects, pairs of virtual particles are constantly popping in and out of existence near the event horizon of a black hole. It’s possible that one virtual particle falls in while the other escapes as Hawking radiation (see below). But since these are virtual particles, not actual particles, it’s debatable whether anything has really “escaped.”

Hawking radiation

In 1975, Stephen Hawking showed that black holes should emit radiation over time due to quantum effects near the horizon. This causes the black hole to lose mass over billions of years until it eventually evaporates away altogether. But Hawking radiation has never been directly observed from an actual black hole.

Outside the event horizon

Matter that gets close to a black hole but doesn’t actually cross the event horizon can escape if it gains enough velocity. For example, closely orbiting stars can be ejected at high speeds by their interactions with each other. We observe hypervelocity stars zipping away from the centers of galaxies at millions of miles per hour, likely due to clusters of stars scattered by the galaxy’s supermassive black hole.


There are some exotic theoretical exceptions where things could potentially escape from within a black hole:


Wormholes are theoretical tunnels through space-time that could potentially connect a black hole to another region of space or even another universe. However, wormholes are entirely hypothetical and have never been observed.

White holes

A theoretical time-reversed black hole known as a white hole could theoretically allow matter and light to escape from within. But there is no evidence that white holes actually exist in nature.

Hawking radiation

Some theories suggest that Hawking radiation originates from inside the black hole due to quantum effects rather than outside. This would imply that Hawking radiation is something escaping from inside the horizon.


While a few hypothetical concepts suggest ways matter and energy could potentially escape from inside a black hole, nothing has ever actually been observed escaping once it crosses the event horizon from the inside. As far as scientists can tell based on observations and current physics, black holes truly let nothing escape their gravitational grasp once it passes the point of no return.