Stephen Hawking was right: black holes can evaporate


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Stephen Hawking was right: black holes can evaporate

The most famous scientist of the 20th century, Stephen Hawking, made one of his most unusual predictions in 1974: black holes can completely evaporate. For almost 50 years, the scientist's theory has remained just an unconfirmed hypothesis. However, recent studies suggest that the version of the famous researcher could be true, and that the most mysterious objects in the Universe can indeed evaporate.

Black holes don't seem to last forever

What is a black hole?

A black hole is a giant funnel that attracts absolutely everything that meets in its path. The force of attraction of this invisible object is so great that even light is not able to leave the terrible embrace of this cosmic monster.

According to Stephen Hawking’s theory, black holes are not completely “black”, but instead actually emit particles. Hawking believed that this radiation could absorb so much energy and mass from black holes that it could even make them disappear. Despite the fact that Hawking's theory has long been considered absolutely unprovable, modern research has been able to show that it is too early to draw such hasty conclusions.

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However, most recently, physicists were able to find the elusive Hawking radiation and even reproduce it in their laboratory. Although the received radiation was too weak to be detected in space by our modern instruments, physicists were able to see this radiation in an analogue of a black hole that scientists were able to create in laboratory conditions.

What is antimatter?

Black holes have such a powerful gravitational force that even the smallest particle of light – a photon that moves at the speed of light, cannot escape from the clutches of this space monster. Although the vacuum is usually considered empty, the uncertainty of quantum mechanics shows that the vacuum is replete with certain virtual particles that can form such an exotic substance as antimatter. Antimatter particles have the same mass as their material counterparts, but differ in the opposite electric charge.

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It was believed that immediately after the appearance of a pair of such hypothetical particles, they immediately merge with each other. However, as it turned out, next to the black hole, the extreme gravitational forces do not force the particles to mutually destroy, but stretch them in opposite directions, one of the particles being absorbed by the black hole, and the second flying far into space. A particle absorbed as a result of such a process has negative energy, which interacts with a black hole and reduces its energy and mass. If a black hole can properly dine with such virtual particles, then it will give up so much energy that the black monster will eventually evaporate.

Is it possible to create a black hole in the laboratory?

In order to recreate the analogue of the black hole in the laboratory of the Israel Institute of Technology, physicist Jeff Steinhauer and his colleagues used an extremely cold gas called Bose-Einstein condensate. Scientists decided to use this substance in order to simulate the event horizon – a kind of border inside a black hole, beyond which nothing can escape. In the flowing stream of this gas, they placed a virtual barrier, creating a kind of "waterfall" of gas; when gas flowed through an artificial waterfall, it turned potential energy into kinetic, as a result, it began to move faster than the speed of sound.

The first artificial black hole was created in Israel

Instead of matter and antimatter, which interact in a similar process in space, the researchers used pairs of quantum sound waves or phonons. On one side, the sound wave was able to move against the gas stream, moving away from the waterfall, while the phonon on the fast side could not do this, since it was captured by a simulated “black hole” from supersonic gas.

The result of the experiment showed that Stephen Hawking's theory really sheds light on the mystery of black holes: the gradual absorption of Hawking particles by black holes leads to the dispersal of galactic monsters.

Thus, it is precisely the idea of ​​the most brilliant scientist of the 20th century that will help people once to tame the colossal energy of the most incredible objects of the Universe, making the human race the real conquerors of the galaxy.

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