The cosmic occurrence known as the black hole is surely the universe's most flat-out spooky phenomenon. These are regions of space so dense with matter that they warp reality in all known directions -- plus a few we can't measure yet. Black holes distort physics, devour stars, and create holes in space-time itself, from which not even light can escape.
Turns out they can evaporate, though. Trace Dominguez has the details in today's DNews report.
In recent decades, scientists have been exploring the possibility that certain kinds of particles can escape from a black hole -- via something called Hawking radiation. Named after everyone's favorite theoretical physicist, this radiation operates in the quantum realm, and as such, it gets trippy fast.
Hawking radiation is a kind of electromagnetic radiation, like light, except that it dances to the strange rhythms of quantum mechanics. Theoretically, Hawking radiation produces virtual "ghost" particles that pop in and out of existence in our world. You may want to check another recent DNews report, below, which digs into all this.
RELATED: How Ghost Particles are Slowing Down Stars
The important part, in regard to black holes, is that these particles always appear in pairs. Sometimes, these pairs will appear within a black hole's event horizon -- near enough to get sucked in. In this situation, theoretical physicists think that one of the virtual particle pairs should fall into the black hole, while its partner gets stuck on this side of the cosmos, all by its lonesome.
This is where it gets interesting: In case of separation like this, quantum dynamics dictate that both particles becomes "real" and stop flitting in and out of time-space. But things can't just apparate in our universe. If the lonesome particle on our side of things acquires mass and energy, then the particle that went into the black hole must carry negative energy.
The net effect is that, every time this happens, the black hole loses a little bit of mass. If the black hole is no longer eating new stuff -- stars, Matthew McConaughey, whatever -- it will eventually diminish and "evaporate."
Trace has more details in the video, including some related content on the Large Hadron Collider and the Black Hole Firewall Paradox, which is not a Swedish heavy metal band, but should be.
-- Glenn McDonald
UC Riverside: Hawking Radiation
Science Alert: Stephen Hawking just published a new solution to the black hole information paradox