2022 Best in Digital Illustration & Photography – Sarah De Falco

Spaghettification: A Visual Hypothesis


Digital Painting

This artwork illustrates a human experiencing the astronomical phenomenon known as “Spaghettification”. Spaghettification occurs as a result of the gravitational gradient surrounding black holes. As an object nears a black hole, the side closer to the black hole experiences a greater gravitational pull than the side further from the black hole. This results in the object being stretched into a long, thin noodle travelling toward the black hole. Though this process has never been observed on non-immense objects, this artwork provides a visual hypothesis of how Spaghettification could affect humans or even something as small as a screwdriver.

This artwork displays the process known as “Spaghettification”, also known as the “noodle effect”. Spaghettification is an astronomical phenomenon that happens as a result of the gravitational gradation near black holes. As objects near a black hole, the part of the object closer to the black hole experiences a stronger gravitational pull than the part of the object further from the black hole. As a result of this, the object is stretched vertically toward the black hole, while also being compressed horizontally. Visually, the objects take on the appearance of a long, thin noodle stretching toward the black hole (hence the name “Spaghettification”). This process happens quickly, over the course of seconds, depending on the size of the affected object. Though Spaghettification has never been observed affecting an object the size of a human, scientists have used mathematical models to predict its effect on a human-sized object. This phenomenon, however, has been observed on immense objects such as stars or even galaxies. The artwork provides a hypothetical visual representation of what would happen to a human being experiencing the effects of Spaghettification. The artwork shows an astronaut beginning to be stretched toward a distant black hole. The artwork also shows a tool belonging to the astronaut being stretched in a similar manner. This illustrates that Spaghettification does not only affect biological beings, but instead any massive objects. Because Spaghettification has only been observed on immense objects, the artwork provides an imaginative, but scientifically-based idea of what Spaghettification would look like on smaller objects like people, or even smaller objects like a screwdriver. Stephen Hawking posed a hypothetical situation in A Brief History of Time, where he described an astronaut being stretched feet-first into a black hole. This artwork, however, provides a hypothetical visualization of what Spaghettification would look like if the human subject was stretched along the length of their body. The artwork uses surrealist techniques to illustrate the almost unbelievable reality of Spaghettification. Both the artwork and the real-life phenomenon look completely fabricated, like something out of a science fiction novel. However, like the art is in a realistic style, Spaghettification is an actual, observed event.