The collision calculator, part of the Omni Calculator Project, was built by Álvaro Diez, a physics student at the University of Warsaw in Poland, who had built it in about a week and the majority of that time was spent making the tool appealing and understandable to a broad audience.
"The physics underneath are not extremely complicated (surprisingly enough, you can use Newtonian mechanics to describe general features of black holes with high precision), but are definitely weird," Diez told Space.com.
Diez has built other calculators as well, such as an Exoplanet discovery calculator and a black hole temperature calculator — all to share knowledge with fellow researchers and other people online.
He added that he was motivated to construct the collision calculator by the recent run of big black-hole news. Earlier this year, for example, scientists with the Event Horizon Telescope project released the first-ever direct image of a black hole's shadow.
And just last month, one team of astronomers announced the detection of a star being ripped to shreds by a black hole, and another team discovered three supermassive black holes that are on a collision course.
"So, I could not contain myself anymore and decided to be part of this 'Year of the Black Hole' of sorts by creating a calculator that would help people understand better these mysterious objects," Diez said.