Scientists have fresh new evidence — straight from the lab — which may back up one of Stephen Hawking’s most powerful theories about black holes, demonstrating that Hawking radiation is a very real thing after all.
As ScienceAlert reports, scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, claim that they have found a way to create a simulated version of Hawking radiation within their lab. This is hugely important to the world of science, as general relativity doesn’t predict its existence.
With general relativity, for any object unlucky enough to travel beyond the event horizon and into a black hole, the gravitational force is so strong that nothing will ever be able to escape from it. What this should mean is that black holes are also unable to emit electromagnetic radiation. However, in 1974, Stephen Hawking suggested that — through quantum mechanics — black holes do emit Hawking radiation. Now, scientists believe they have created it inside of a lab.
What is known is that radiation of the kind that Hawking predicted would make it so that black holes evaporate slowly over time, but the radiation that causes this is so minimal that there is no conceivable way that instruments could capture it today. However, by using black hole analogues to recreate Hawking radiation — which can be done through Bose-Einstein condensates, or fluid and sound waves — physicist Ulf Leonhardt explained that Hawking radiation may be much more common than originally supposed.
“Hawking radiation is a much more general phenomenon than originally thought. It can happen whenever event horizons are made, be it in astrophysics or for light in optical materials, water waves or ultracold atoms.”
We Just Got Lab-Made Evidence of Stephen Hawking's Greatest Prediction About Black Holes https://t.co/nB6zawsr4U
— ScienceAlert (@ScienceAlert) January 21, 2019
Leonhardt also noted that numeral calculations alone have shown that there is an even stronger Hawking light than has been demonstrated so far, which will need to be looked into next.
“Our numerical calculations predict a much stronger Hawking light than we have seen. We plan to investigate this next. But we are open to surprises and will remain our own worst critics.”
Now that a simulated black hole has been created within the confines of an optical fiber, what looks very much like Hawking radiation has been created — which is just what Stephen Hawking predicted. However, as this was a simulated emission, it may still be quite different from the radiation produced by a more spontaneous emission from a black hole.
Details of the new research — research which has attempted to prove Stephen Hawking’s greatest prediction about black holes, and which has created Hawking radiation within the confines of a lab — has been published in Physical Review Letters.