A physicist from Yale University identified the types of black holes that can destroy Earth, either by completely swallowing it or hurling it towards the Sun. According to the physicist, these scenarios are likely to happen based on current predictions.

Fabio Pacucci, a postdoctoral associate at Yale University’s Department of Physics, explained that black holes vary depending on their sizes. Many of the black holes discovered by space agencies and astronomers can be categorized into two types.

The smaller ones are referred to as stellar mass black holes. A stellar mass black hole usually has a radius less than 186 miles long and a mass that’s a hundred times bigger than that of the Sun.

According to Pacucci, stellar mass black holes are known to move around the galaxy. Although the chances of these black holes hitting Earth are very small, they can still cause the planet’s destruction in a very different way.

Pacucci explained that stellar mass black holes have gravitational fields that are strong enough to affect distant planets. This means if one of these black holes passes near Earth, the planet could get pushed into a collision path with the Sun.

“Because their gravitational fields can affect a planet from a large distance, they could be dangerous even without a direct collision,” Pacucci said during a Ted Talk. “If a typical stellar mass black hole were to pass in the region of Neptune, the orbit of the Earth would be considerably modified, with dire results.”

The other type of black hole that can destroy Earth is the supermassive one. Unlike its stellar mass counterparts, a supermassive black hole remains stationary at the center of galaxies. It was able to reach its immense size by merging with other large black holes through collisions.

As previously discussed by other astronomers, the Milky Way Galaxy, which is where Earth is located, is currently on a direct collision course with the Andromeda Galaxy. Once this happens, the supermassive black holes of the two galaxies will merge and grow into a bigger one.

Pacucci pointed out that during the collision, Earth will be thrown into the center of the Milky Way and will eventually get swallowed by the supermassive black hole.

Astronomers predicted that the collision between Milky Way and Andromeda will happen four billion years from now.

Supermassive black hole
This artist's concept illustrates a supermassive black hole with millions to billions times the mass of our sun. Supermassive black holes are enormously dense objects buried at the hearts of galaxies. NASA/JPL-Caltech