The supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy will not affect you

Some people think that the end of the Mayan calendar might “mean something” because our solar system will be “aligned” with the galactic center. That’s a load of bullshit, and I’ll tell you why.

Let’s set aside the very questionable idea of what it means for our solar system to be “aligned” with anything else in the universe.  Let’s look only at the general hypothesis that the planet earth will be affected in some way by the position of the galactic center.

Yes, there is a super-massive black hole at the center of the galaxy.  According to most estimates, that black hole is about 4,100,000 solar masses.  In other words, it is four point one million times the mass of our sun. That seems like a lot, right?

It’s also very far away. According to our best estimates, it is 26,000 light years away. These are all very big numbers, and difficult to wrap our minds around. So let’s find something to compare them to.

The sun, of course, is 1 solar mass. That’s why we call it a “solar mass”.  It is also relatively close by, in astronomical terms. It is about 150 million kilometers, which is about 0.000015 light years away.

Now let’s find a way to do a direct comparison of the amount of force exerted by each on our planet. That shouldn’t be too hard, right? This is High School level math!

The formula for calculating the gravitational force between two masses is this:


Let’s call m1 the earth. The force of our sun on the earth is this:


Keep in mind that our mass units is solar units, which is why the mass of the sun is equal to 1. The units for distance is light years.

The force of the black hole at the center of the galaxy is this:


So now, we want to calculate the relative magnitude of these two things. We can express this as a formula that compares these two variables, and has a constant (k) that represents the relative magnitude:


To find the relative magnitude of these two forces, we solve for k. If the black hole exerts twice as much force as the sun, then k is 0.5. On the other hand, if the sun exerts twice as much force as the black hole, then k would equal 2.

We can substitute the above formulas into our new equation to try to solve it, so:

G*(m1*1)/(0.000015)2 = k*G*(m1*4100000)/(26000)2

Luckily, since the mass of the earth (m1) and the gravitational constant (G) are the same on both sides, they cancel. So we can reduce this equation to:

(1)/(0.000015)2 = k*(4100000)/(26000)2

We can get calculate out those pesky squared calculations by simply calculating it through:

1/0.000000000225 = k*4100000/676000000

Let’s divide out the numbers on both sides to get decimals:

4444444444.44 = k*0.006065088

Finally, we solve for k:

k = 732,791,327,912.546

So what is the verdict?

DOOOOOOHHHHHH!    I’m sorry, Mayan Calendar enthusiasts!

The fact is, the sun exerts over 700 billion times the amount of influence over the earth that the black hole at the center of the galaxy does.

Or, to put it another way, the influence of the black hole at the center of the galaxy is only a little bit better than a trillionth of the influence of the sun.

So: no earthquakes. No volcanoes.  No continents falling into the sea.

You know how I know?


Galactic Center Bullshit

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