What happens to matter swallowed by black holes? Japanese physicists may finally have an answer

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A team of physicists may have solved the mystery of the matter swallowed by black holes. These physicists considered wormholes—theoretical tunnels with two ends at different points in spacetime— to explain the long-held secret. Black holes are areas in space that no matter can penetrate. A black hole’s gravity is so strong that it pulls everything in and lets nothing out, not even light. A team from Japan’s RIKEN research institute said black holes mimic wormholes, meaning black holes have an escape tunnel so matter they swallowed can be released back into the universe.

The model proposed by these scientists, including Kanato Goto, researcher in interdisciplinary theoretical and mathematical sciences at RIKEN, appears to be similar to the concept seen in popular science fiction films. However, if validated, it could solve a long-standing black hole information paradox.

According to Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, nothing can escape from a black hole. But Stephen Hawking predicted in the 1970s that black holes should emit radiation (Hawking radiation) as they shrink. This is called “evaporation” from black holes. Considering Hawking’s concept, the information about the matter that a black hole swallowed should also evaporate with the black hole. But quantum physics says information can’t just disappear from the universe, leading to the paradox.

“This suggests that general relativity and quantum mechanics are inconsistent in their current form. We need to find a unified framework for quantum gravity,” Goto said in a statement.

Several efforts have been made to understand whether information can escape from black holes, but a definite answer is still warranted. Theoretically, Goto and his colleagues have found an explanation for what happens with this information. “A wormhole connects the inside of the black hole and the radiation outside like a bridge,” he said. But some questions remain unanswered. “We still don’t know the basic mechanism of how information is carried away by the radiation,” Goto added.


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