Let’s turn things around and ask this question. Is there a possibility of creating a black hole in the laboratory if we had the desire to do so and were certain there would be no risk involved?
1. What are Black Holes?
In space, a Black hole is a region where gravity is so strong that even light cannot escape. As a result of the substance being squeezed into such a small space, gravity is very strong. This can happen when a star is dying.
2. All Black Holes, Great and Small
Nothing can escape a black hole’s tremendous gravitational force, not even light. The ones we are aware of were created either by events during the early Universe that form the supermassive black holes present at the center of most galaxies, including our own, or through the deaths of stars far more massive than our Sun (the stellar-mass black holes).
In both of these instances, the behavior of the stuff whirling about the black holes and their gravitational pull on other objects allow us to witness the black holes using telescopes indirectly.
3. The Closest Scientist has Ever Come to Creating a Black Hole –
When Stephen Hawking revealed that black holes were not completely black 40 years ago, he shocked cosmologists. Hawking reasoned that a very little quantity of radiation would be able to escape the gravity of a black hole. This created the intriguing question of whether information that was encoded in the radiation may also escape.
A fundamental principle of quantum theory—that huge fluctuations in energy can exist for fleeting moments—is the basis for Hawking radiation. This means that instead of being empty, space’s vacuum is actually teeming with particles and their antimatter counterparts. Particle-antiparticle pairings continue to appear and then destroy one another.
Yet, something unique happens when particle pairs appear close to the event horizon, the border between a black hole and the rest of the universe. A black hole’s gravity is so intense that it warps space-time. As the particle-antiparticle pair splits, the one closest to the event horizon plunges into the black hole while the other one manages to escape.
These escaping particles make up Hawking radiation, a product of attempts to integrate general relativity and quantum physics. Although physicists have not yet observed this phenomenon from an actual black hole. Simulating an event horizon in a laboratory setting would be another method of putting Hawking’s hypothesis to the test.
A group of rubidium atoms frozen to less than one billionth of a degree above absolute zero was employed for this purpose by Jeff Steinhauer, a physicist at the Technion-Israel University of Technology in Haifa. At these temperatures, the atoms are closely packed, act as one fluid quantum object, and are therefore simple to control. The fluid, referred to as a Bose-Einstein condensate, acts as a silent medium for the passage of sound waves resulting from quantum fluctuations because of its extremely low temperature.
Steinhauer accelerated the fluid’s flow above the speed of sound by using laser light. Sound waves that are going against the direction of the fluid become “stuck,” much like a swimmer fighting a strong current. As a result, the condensate acts as a substitute for the gravitational event horizon.
In a lab vacuum, pairs of sound waves appear and disappear, simulating particle-antiparticle pairs in space. The particles that originate atop this acoustic event horizon turn into Hawking radiation. Steinhauer created a second sonic event horizon inside the first, altering the fluid so that sound waves could not pass this second event horizon and bounced back, amplifying these sound waves so that his detectors could detect them. The Hawking radiation is amplified to observable levels as the sound waves repeatedly hit the outer horizon, producing more pairs of soundwaves in the process.
The degree to which this laboratory model, which took Steinhauer five years to build, replicates Hawking radiation is still unclear. Steinhauer can only detect one frequency of the radiation due to the amplification in his model, thus he cannot be certain that it has the intensity that actual Hawking radiation would have at many frequencies.
Steinhauer is currently working to create the technologies necessary to analyze his model black hole without amplifying sonic radiation. This might enable him to investigate the information paradox using his “Hawking radiation.”
Gravity is the only natural force that has not been accounted for by quantum mechanics. Therefore, it might also be helpful to physicists in answering their query to reconcile quantum theory with gravity. Hawking radiation is the first step in addressing how to link general relativity with quantum physics, and an artificial black hole might offer a chance to examine how this might be done.
This discovery is “perhaps the most robust and clear-cut evidence,” according to experimental physicist Daniele Faccio of Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, that laboratory models may mimic occurrences at the boundary between general relativity and quantum mechanics. In 2010, Faccio and his coworkers claimed to have discovered an analog of Hawking radiation; however, the group has now admitted to having seen a different phenomenon.
Yet according to the University of Maryland at College Park physicist Ted Jacobson, who first proposed in 1999 that analog radiation could be observed in a lab, the prospect of learning new things about black holes from the sound experiment is still “far-fetched” at this time.
4. Creating a Black Hole in the Laboratory
The creation of a lab-scale replica of a black hole that emits Hawking radiation, the particles that are supposed to escape black holes because of quantum mechanical phenomena, is now closer to reality than it has ever been.
The black hole analog was made by enclosing sound waves in an extremely cold fluid, as reported in Nature Physics. These items may one day assist in resolving the so-called “information conundrum” surrounding black holes, which concerns whether data sucked into one is lost forever. This might be the first step toward replicating black holes.
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