The plot device J.J. Abrams came up with in the film is called "red matter", which is apparently different than any other matter that reflects red light.
|This isn't a wayward red blood cell, it's black hole fuel!|
The trigger for red matter seems to be making it interact with a massive body, such as a ship or a planet. You can't just set a trigger on it and tell it to become a black hole, it has to actually hit the massive object. Moreover, I think it is best used at the spot in the object where matter is most compressed by its own gravity. Namely, the center. This is why Nero used his giant drill to bore down to the center of Vulcan, as opposed to just hurling the red matter at the planet's surface.
Here's where it gets interesting, though. The black hole that's produced has no correlation to the amount of red matter that's used. For example, observe this photo of the planet Vulcan collapsing into the black hole at its core.
|The black hole formed in the middle of Nero's ship; that's why it's on both sides.|
This leads me to believe that the amount of red matter is irrelevant. What matters is the thing the red matter is used on, and how much mass it has.
Now, this presents a bit of a problem. The black hole produced is not directly correlated to the amount of mass the object has.
Let's assume Vulcan, shown collapsing above, is about the size of Earth (for convenience's sake). If Earth collapsed into a black hole, the black hole produced would be smaller than a grape. A stellar-mass black hole--a black hole with the approximate mass of our sun--comes from the collapse of a star with 25+ solar masses. Yet the red matter made Vulcan collapse into a planet-mass black hole! Thus, red matter must work, not by collapsing the mass already present to its natural Schwartzchild radius (all masses have it; it's theoretical in nature, kinda), but by acting as a multiplier for the mass that's already there. It multiplies the mass of the object it's used on until the radius of the black hole that'll be produced is equal to the radius of the original object.
We can even work out what the multiplier is, within reason. Here's how I did it:
The Schwartzchild radius of an object (what it would be, with its mass, if it were to become a black hole) is about three kilometers multiplied by its mass. Now, the radius of the Vulcan black hole (if Vulcan is Earth-sized) is about 6384 kilometers, since that's the radius of Earth. Divided by 3, that means that you would have to have 2128 solar masses to create a black hole that size!
Earth's mass, obviously, isn't anything even close to a stellar mass. According to Wikipedia, it's about 332,950 times less than the sun. So if we multiply 332950 by 2128, we get 708,517,600. That's the multiplier of the "red matter", if my theory is correct. When the red matter hits a massive object (planet, ship, whatever), it multiplies the mass by 708,517,600 times, causing it to collapse into a black hole that has a Schwartzchild radius precisely equal to the original object's actual radius.
This is how red matter works. Thank you and good night.
|Here's some celebratory penguins!|